The lesser racism

Labour doesn’t care about anti-Semitism. Today proved it.

Tom Slater

Tom Slater
Deputy Editor

Topics Politics UK

The ink had barely dried on the article penned by UK chief rabbi Ephraim Mirvis – issuing an unprecedented, damning indictment of the Labour Party over its handling of anti-Semitism – before Corbynistas set about proving him right.

In this remarkable intervention, published in The Times today, Mirvis said Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was ‘unfit for high office’ due to his past associations with anti-Semites and his party’s inability to get a handle on cases of Jew-hatred among its membership.

The piece offers a grim reminder of the growing charge sheet against Corbyn’s Labour. Mirvis references the reported 130 outstanding cases cases of anti-Semitism being investigated by the party, as well as the Jewish MPs who have effectively been driven out by vile racist abuse.

Speaking today, at the launch of Labour’s ‘race and faith manifesto’ no less, Corbyn said ‘anti-Semitism in any form is vile and wrong’. He said ‘there is no place for it’ in Labour, reminding the audience that his is the party that ‘passed [the] Human Rights Act, that set up the Equality and Human Rights Commission’.

It was an unfortunate reference. The Equality and Human Rights Commission is currently investigating Labour over anti-Semitism. (The only other party to be investigated by the EHRC was the fascist BNP.) And that wasn’t the only problem with Corbyn’s defence.

As Mirvis reminds us in his piece, this isn’t just a case of poor party processes: Corbyn himself is a big part of the problem. He has associated with groups, like Hamas and Hezbollah, who have ‘endorse[d] the murder of Jews’. ‘How complicit in prejudice would a leader of Her Majesty’s opposition have to be to be considered unfit for office?’, he asks.

The piece is damning, but also full of regret. Rarely does a faith leader enter the political fray so explicitly. Worse still, Mirvis seems to know full well that his concerns, shared widely across Britain’s Jewish community, will fall on deaf ears among those who need to hear them most.

‘We have learned the hard way that speaking out means that we will be demonised by faceless social-media trolls and accused of being partisan or acting in bad faith by those who still think of this as an orchestrated political smear’, he writes.

As it turns out, he was only half-right: Corbynistas have dismissed him, but many haven’t bothered hiding behind an avatar. In a since-deleted tweet, Labour activist Holly Rigby dismissed Mirvis as a ‘Boris Johnson supporter’ and ‘uncritical supporter of Netanyahu’. ‘His comments must be taken in this context’, she said.

The proof for this seems to be that Mirvis congratulated Johnson when he became PM in July, and that he has met Netanyahu, as you’d imagine he would have. (Incidentally, in 2015, the Israeli PM rebuffed Mirvis’s concerns about settlements.)

Regardless, Mirvis’s article is all obviously part of the big anti-Corbyn stitch-up. ‘The establishment media have made it clear that racism is only considered grounds for exclusion from public life if it’s from someone associated with the Labour Party’, tweeted Novara Media’s Ash Sarkar.

These are the more polite examples. Corbynista Twitter has been a sewer all day, as it often is. Owen Jones even felt moved at one point to tell his followers that attacking Mirvis was ‘not the correct response’, even though it was a ‘baseless and disgraceful smear’ to call the leadership anti-Semitic.

Naturally, ‘Tory Islamophobia’ has come up – which Corbynistas blurt out, Tourette’s-like, whenever Labour anti-Semitism is raised. Forget Jeremy Corbyn: Boris ‘letterboxes’ Johnson is the real racist, has been the predictable refrain. But this cheap deflection does their argument no favours.

The two men’s alleged crimes are incomparable. Johnson once wrote a column mocking misogynistic religious dress while defending women’s right to wear it. Corbyn once invited Raed Salah – a man convicted in Israel for repeating the blood libel – to tea in the House of Commons. Spot the difference.

Such whataboutery is bad enough. What’s worse is the way in which truly spurious allegations of racism are now used by Labourites against concerned Jewish people. When Jews dare to speak up about Labour anti-Semitism, genuinely ‘baseless and disgraceful smears’ are flung their way.

Last week, Countdown star Rachel Riley caught flak from Corbynistas for putting out a photoshopped image of Corbyn, replacing the words on an anti-Apartheid placard with the words ‘Jeremy Corbyn is a racist endeavour’. For this, she was accused of being a racist, because she was ‘erasing’ the anti-Apartheid struggle.

Whatever you think about Riley’s tactics, she was clearly making a point about what she sees as the hypocrisy of Corbyn: that this ‘lifelong anti-racist’ has a seemingly different attitude when it comes to Jews. It should be obvious to anyone. But in response to the photo, Corbynistas demanded she be sacked.

A few days ago, actress Maureen Lipman was hit with a similar backlash, when she made a video attacking Labour over anti-Semitism. The mere fact that she decided to talk about the video with the Sun was used to tar her as a bigot. ‘You want to call out racism in the Sun? Seriously?’, said the Canary, a pro-Corbyn website.

Then there’s Ian Austin. He is the adopted son of Holocaust survivors and he left Labour over anti-Semitism in February. Earlier this month, he urged voters to back Boris Johnson rather than risk putting Corbyn in No10. In response, shadow chancellor John McDonnell (wrongly) accused him of being employed by the Tories, and Owen Jones accused him of being a xenophobe.

It’s disgusting. Imagine Labourites acting like this towards any other minority group. They are PC to a fault in almost every other respect. This is a party whose equalities spokesperson denounced Jamie Oliver’s ‘jerk rice’ as cultural appropriation. And yet so many Labourites are completely dismissive of – almost irritated by – British Jews’ completely legitimate fears.

Over the years, a new anti-Semitism has developed almost unconsciously on a certain part of the left, spawned from an increasingly debased ideology. As argued before on spiked, the combination of some left-wingers’ myopic obsession with Israel, their conspiratorial view of the world, and their ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’ approach to foreign affairs has unwittingly led them up some truly dark alleys.

This is why they have developed a blindspot where anti-Semitism is concerned, and an alarming tolerance for anti-Semites. The line between criticism of Israel and criticism of Jews has become blurred. And these leftists’ conspiratorial mindset means they increasingly see people’s sincerely expressed concerns as some partisan, coordinated attack.

But at what point does a blindspot become something worse? At what point do double standards over anti-Semitism become singling Jews out and treating them differently? At what point does defensiveness at certain allegations morph into genuine animus towards the group making them? Today, it feels like we found out.

Tom Slater is deputy editor at spiked. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Slater_

Picture by: Getty

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.


S P Johnson

31st December 2019 at 6:36 pm

Is daring to criticize Isreal anti- Semetic now? If so, call me anti- Semetic!

David Alanson

29th November 2019 at 10:00 am

Tom is 100% correct. Under Jeremy Corbyn the anti Semite racist they care not for the Jewish community. The Labour party momentum clique is a socialist hard left junta. They are on tracks in their thinking; that is:

Palestinians = good

Israel = bad

They genuinely think that way; they are 100% misguided.

Tom has hit the proverbial nail.


Jonnie Henly

28th November 2019 at 6:24 am

“Naturally, ‘Tory Islamophobia’ has come up – which Corbynistas blurt out, Tourette’s-like, whenever Labour anti-Semitism is raised.”

There are many people with legitimate concerns about Tory Islamopohbia.
When those are raised, Spiked’s reaction is to be outright dismissive.

Stacked next to what Tom writes about Labour and antisemitism, this is a blatant double standard.

Tom, at what point do your double standards become something worse?

Jonnie Henly

28th November 2019 at 6:20 am

Why is it okay for Rachel Riley to point out what she sees as Corbyn’s double standards, but not for Labour supporters to do likewise?

Erasing anti Apartheid slogans whilst pledging to oppose racism is hypocritical.

Same with Ian Austin. He was called a xenophobia because he has a track record of expressing xenophobic views.
Why is it wrong to point out his hypocrisy?

Speaking out against racism in a newspaper with a history of racism is hypocritical. Again, why is it suddenly not okay for anyone to mention this.

If anyone holds double standards here, it’s you Tom.

Neil McCaughan

27th November 2019 at 8:58 pm

Were it not for the chronological mismatch, I would have suspected George Orwell of modelling Squealer on Owen Jones.

Dzoldzaya Blackarrow

27th November 2019 at 5:11 pm

In response to this kind of article, I often wonder if I’m the only person who thinks that all these accusations are nonsense, on both sides. Neither Islamophobia nor anti-semitism are particularly big problems in any main party in the UK. The fact that you have to look back through the archives to find spurious evidence of either Corbyn’s or Johnson’s bigotry should be evidence enough that neither have particularly strong prejudices either way (come on, both the letterbox article and the addressing of Hamas ‘friends’ are both fairly acceptable things to do, and even if you disagree, they’re hardly representative of their everyday behaviour). Just look at the strongest evidence of antisemitism in Labour or Islamophobia in the Conservative party, a few dodgy comments on private online forums by party members, a few comments taken out of context by some fringe figures.

Both sides, please, just grow up and stop this pathetic game, there are plenty of real anti-semites and other racists on the fringes who you should be worried about.

Tony Collins

4th December 2019 at 4:24 pm

Dzoldzaya Blackarrow, Thank you. I was mentally composing a comment when I saw yours.
You have said everything I wanted to say, thuis saving me the trouble. Well said.

Simon Daly

27th November 2019 at 10:55 am

“ The line between criticism of Israel and criticism of Jews has become blurred”.By who? This is the central issue.

Malicious anti semitic comments by Labour Party members are statistically ( in relation to the total number of members of the party) insignificant. There is no evidence available statistically to suggest that the problem with anti-Semitism in the Labour party is any worse than Islamophobia within the Conservative party.

The attempt to define anti semitism so that it includes any allegation that Israel is a racist society is distorting the entire picture. Israel is a racist society and should be called out for it. I have myself visited Israel and the Palestinian areas within the last 12 months and have witnessed at firsthand the racist treatment of Palestinians as well as the systematic violence and oppression imposed upon them by Israeli security forces. I also observed the discriminatory military tribunal procedures at first hand which are imposed upon Palestinian civilians.

I am not a member of the Labour Party. I lived in Israel when I was younger and am old enough to remember taking part in counter demonstrations against the National Front who really were anti-Semitic . Jeremy Corbyn was on those demonstrations. If I have to choose between him and current political commentators using the pretext of anti-Semitism for their own political ends, I know who I will choose.

Amelia Cantor

27th November 2019 at 10:45 am

I have to agree fully with Tom’s assessment of Labour’s horrendous failure in terms of issues around anti-semitism. As we all know, Spiked and the Jewish community are almost as one in terms of their core embracing of uncompromising support for free speech and an equally uncompromising rejection of identity politics.

It’s also horrendous to think the Labour and the Jewish community should now be opposite sides. Was it really only a few years ago that Tony Blair — a staunch friend of Israel and the Jewish community — led this once-proud party? Corbyn has trashed the Labour values that Blair exemplified in such shining fashion throughout his leadership of Labour and his occupation of the post of prime minister.

Michael Lynch

26th November 2019 at 11:35 pm

What is with these extreme socialists and their hatred for Jews? Is anti semitism a prerequisite, or condition, of socialist ideology? Surely the real wealth of the world, and ultimate control over the West because of our economic dependence on oil, is firmly in the hands of the Arabs. Momentum and their army of wokes are intent on comparing Farage, Trump and Boris with Hitler and yet it was Hitler (the socialist champion) who hated the Jews wasn’t it? Who are the real fascists here?

michael savell

26th November 2019 at 11:12 pm

Corbyn is another idiot who runs with the fox and hunts with the hounds.He imagines he will get the best of both worlds but in fact will probably be made to stand down by his own party.Not content with making life difficult for jewish people,like feminists he wants to rewrite history showing Britain to house a murderous people.If you find yourself the victim of an assault abroad you will know whom to blame.

Jerry Owen

26th November 2019 at 10:24 pm

It was a joy to see Andrew Neil tear Corbyn apart tonight.
Corbyn refused to apologize to the Jewish community for the anti semitism of his party numerous times.
He also has a magic money tree and he would not take out an ISIS leader even if he could.
Neil knows how to push people’s buttons and it was quite evident that Corbyn has an anger issue bubbling away inside.
The BNP is nationalist anti immigration and ‘old labour’ in many respects and bearing in mind they are a legally registered party , the word fascist is a bit cheap , you should direct that one to the labour Party.

Stephen J

27th November 2019 at 8:49 am

Yes the leader of the British Union of Fascists was once a Labour cabinet minister, so no change there then.

Jonnie Henly

28th November 2019 at 6:26 am

“it was quite evident that Corbyn has an anger issue bubbling away inside.”

I’d say such BS is only evident to you Jerry.
You are becoming rather desperate in your arguments against Corbyn.

H McLean

26th November 2019 at 8:41 pm

Having a reasonable conversation with some on the left is an impossible task when it comes to certain subjects. Donald Trump is a good one, as is Brexit, of course, or the notion that Tories can be regular people with different experiences, expectations and hopes for the future rather than greedy fat cat industrialist millionaires – but absolutely nothing sets them off into a blinkered frenzy of babbling incoherence like the I/P conflict.

It is undeniable that any concern for the Palestinian people now segues neatly into a seething contempt not just for all things Israel, but for all Jewish people everywhere, who are treated as proxies for the Jewish state who must bear personal responsibility for the I/P conflict.

This is especially true in universities, where young people are inculcated with an obsessive sense of injustice at the very existence of Israel. In the current environment of political puritanism many students must surely be very wary of revealing their Jewish heritage. Can you imagine someone standing up at an NUS meeting and saying, ‘I’m Jewish’? No, me neither.

This is where it all begins for most Labour politicians and their media acolytes, at university. It probably has something to do with the amount of Marxist professors and lecturers.

Matt Ryan

26th November 2019 at 8:37 pm

It’s not a co-incidence that the most efficient murders of Jews in the 20th century were a Socialist party.

Jerry Owen

27th November 2019 at 9:21 am

Perhaps the modern labour party / left are beginning open a few eyes about the long running battle between ‘socialism and the Jews’.

terence patrick hewett

26th November 2019 at 5:48 pm

It was the late Conor Cruise O’Brien who said that anti-Semitism was a “light sleeper”

He was certainly right. Bang the woodwork and out they crawl.

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