I have followed the row in the UK Labour Party for the past three years and had to understand what antisemitism is and if/why it is a problem.
First, I had to educate myself about antisemitism – not being Jewish I have never been on the receiving end of it. I have a pretty good grasp of 20th century history but had to research exactly when Hitler decided to exterminate the Jews (1). The Nazi Holocaust is well documented and I cannot understand how people can deny it.
Then I had to understand how it could have infected the Labour party so virulently. My father was 100% Labour – he had been brought-up in Wapping, fought the Blackshirts at Cable Street and then Germans from 1939-46. Ed Miliband was Jewish and there are a disproportionate number of Jewish MPs. On a demographic basis there should only be 1.5 Jews in the PLP but there are a lot more than that – how many (15+?) – I have never counted them (2) but they are clearly over-represented in the PLP.
Outside the PLP there are not many Jewish Labour supporters – 87% of Jews do not support Labour (3), the same source saying that 77%+ of Jews support the Conservatives. Since less than 1% of the UK population are members of the Labour party it is reasonable to assume that Jewish membership of the Labour party is less than 5k (4).
Since 83% of Jews consider Labour to be antisemitic (5) this implies that a lot of Conservative Jewish voters consider Labour to be antisemitic. I am not surprised that conservatives support the recently launched youth movement “TurningPoint“ which is promoting the “Labour is antisemitic” trope (6)
Britain has to bear a lot of responsibility for the mess in the middle east. Arbitrarily drawing lines on maps (e.g. Sykes-Picot) was not a good idea but there was little that Britain could do to stop the terrorists establishing the state of Israel. Subsequent attempts by the international community (the UN) to broker a two-state solution have been rebuffed by the Israeli government, and most recently by the USA. The USA must also share the blame for the mess in the middle east.
It is not surprising that the Palestinians feel aggrieved, they have been repeatedly let down by the international community. Supporting Palestinians is not antisemitic – they are also a semitic race – (so by definition anyone supporting them cannot be antisemitic). A lot of people both Jews and non-Jews criticise Israel, so it is good that criticising Israel is not antisemitic. “Jew hate” – Judenhass – is a more accurate term than antisemitism.
Jenny Formby says that antisemitism cannot be eliminated within the Labour party. This is a very sensible and true statement. In any large population there will be a multiplicity of views, some party members will not like Jews (or the Welsh) collectively and many more will not like individual Jews or Welsh (or Arsenal supporters). That is part of life. The reality is that despite nearly seven hundred allegations, only 12 members have been expelled(7).
So, consider who benefits from the “Labour is Antisemitic” campaign. Obviously the Conservative party, anything to detract from their incompetence. Secondly, those in the Labour party who wants “anyone but Jeremy Corbyn” as a leader. Thirdly, agents of Israel – whether employed directly or by proxy. There are a lot of these – one diplomat was caught and had to return to Israel (8). Many more “proxy” agents probably exist in the set of Jews that vote Conservative. These are hard to quantify but a quick review of the Twitter #Antisemitism handle suggests there are a lot of these.
All the evidence points towards these three groups being responsible promoting the “Labour is Antisemitic” story, amplified by the Conservative press – Express, Mail, Telegraph, Times and of course the Jewish Chronicle.
These groups have an agenda. It is not stated but is transparent.
In smearing the Labour party they are also smearing all of the members, so no doubt I will be called antisemitic for pointing-out the overwhelming evidence that the antisemitism campaign is manufactured. We must fight these smears and those making them and not let them distract us from fighting the Tories.
One of the good things about the increased democracy in Labour is that prospective MPs are no longer “parachuted-in” to constituencies. Constituencies should be able to choose who will represent them, de-selecting any sitting MP who has lost their confidence. I have sympathy with the Walton CLP who are now being bullied by Tom Watson and subjected to smears by the Jewish Chronicle.
(1) 1941 – “before he went mad”
(2) I am not proposing to create a list but I would be interested to know.
(4) assuming 500k membership of UK Labour and 400k British Jews
(5) CAA poll of British Jews 2017
(7) https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/feb/11/labour-has-looked-into-673-cases-of- alleged-antisemitism-figures-show