In an article in The Times today, the chief rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, has accused Jeremy Corbyn of allowing a “poison sanctioned from the top” to take root in Labour, saying Jews are justifiably anxious about the prospect of the party forming the next government.
In his perfectly timed attack on Corbyn, Mirvis lets slip what all these accusations of antisemitism against the Labour Party have all been about.
He writes, “How complicit in prejudice would a leader of Her Majesty’s opposition have to be to be considered unfit for office? Would associations with those who have incited hatred against Jews be enough? Would describing as ‘friends’ those who endorse the murder of Jews be enough? It seems not.”
Who are these antisemitic “friends” that he is referring to? Well, Corbyn has never had anything to do with extreme right-wing, home-grown groups such as the National Front and the British National Party but he has often spoken out on behalf of Palestinians and been in dialogue with Palestinian organisations that the government of Israel, rightly or wrongly, calls terrorists. What the Chief Rabbi is saying is that anybody who supports Palestinian aspirations in the Holy Land or is, simply, critical of the Israeli government, is antisemitic. He is using an accusation of racism to reduce the possibility of Labour being elected into power because, if they did win then the UK’s attitude towards Israeli would not be as friendly as it traditionally has been.
Is this a conspiracy? No. Jewish people, wherever they live, need no organising when it comes to defending their ethnic interests; they have had thousands of years of practice and they have a right to lobby politicians. What is wrong is the way they are using the cruel oppression of their people over the centuries as a political weapon in order to thwart criticism of Israeli oppression of the Arab peoples in Palestinian territories and within the state of Israel itself.