Labour and the Jews

Given his Stop The War co-sponsor George Galloway’s anti-Zionism, Jeremy
Corbyn now needs to be very forceful in his rebuttal of racism in his Party

by Sir Thomas Crapper

What is it about Labour and the Jews? Surely it’s the Tories’ job to be racist, and anti-semitism is usually right at the top of the racist agenda.

But no. Ken Livingstone is just the latest to be suspended by the Labour Party. His comments are worth looking at. He says he was quoting ‘historical fact’ when he urged us all to remember that “when Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism.”

Now, we all love Ken, but this really must be his nadir. It is a grotesque rewriting of history. German Jews were blamed by the Nazis for pretty much all of Germany’s woes. Immediately Hitler came to power, Jews were deemed second-class citizens (inferior to the Aryan race) and forced out of the civil service and other public sector employment such as universities and the law courts.

The fact that a senior and iconic Labour Party figure can spew such poison in the 21st century is extremely worrying – obviously for the Party leadership, but surely for all of us?

And it doesn’t end there, the problem of Labour and the Jews.

First Labour puts up a London Mayoral candidate who has associated with various unsavoury elements amongst Islamic fundamentalists. This puts into serious question what Sadiq Khan’s private views might be on the Jewish question. Islamic fundamentalists, after all, seek nothing less than the eradication of all Jews from the face of the earth, including – obviously – the entire State of Israel and all who sail in her.

Then Labour selects as a Prospective Parliamentary Candidate someone whose views didn’t even need to be questioned. All they had to do was check her social media and there it would have been – a Tweet of a meme supporting a call to ‘relocate Israel into United States’.

But did they check Naz Shah’s social media? No. They just checked the boxes marked ‘Female’ and ‘Asian’ and off she went to the polls, defeating (well, thank God for small mercies) that other anti-Zionist and former Labour stalwart George Galloway for the seat of Bradford West.

And it’s not like the Party was caught unawares by some ancient untraceable email. Shah’s guilty Tweet happened six months before her appointment to stand for Parliament. You really have to question the process, no?

More worryingly though – or maybe it’s a clue to the growth of this unpleasant trend, a breeding ground perhaps – is the rife anti-semitism among student unions, particularly the Labour variety. This may come to a head with the appointment of Malia Bouattia as President of the National Union of Students.

Some affiliates are threatening to leave the NUS because Bouattia – the first black President, and also the first Muslim one – has previously been quoted spouting some fairly unpleasant views. Did she really say that the University of Birmingham was “something of a Zionist outpost”? Has she really claimed that the UK has “Zionist-led media outlets”?

Several things cloud the waters here.

It’s quite easy for anti-Zionists, while not swallowing their words, to claim that being anti-Zionist is not the same as being anti-Jewish.

It’s also easy for Muslims to claim a limit on their freedom of speech when exception is taken to their support for some horrid fundamentalist organisation, or their condemnation of Zionism.

And it is also easy to claim that critics of these views are conflating Jewish culture and its religion with the State of Israel.

With all this obfuscation, the underlying growth of anti-Jewish feeling is somewhat smothered. But it is there, it is growing and this is the scariest time to be Jewish since World War 2.

George Galloway, anti-Zionist to his bootlaces, was a founder-sponsor of the Stop The War Coalition along with Jeremy Corbyn. So we are going to need some serious convincing before Corbyn himself becomes tarred with the same brush. He could start by disaffiliating all organisations – including Student Unions – who espouse any kind of racism, whether it’s being anti-Jewish, anti-Zionist or anti-Muslim.

Does Corbyn have the stomach to solve the problem of Labour and the Jews? We will see.

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