The UK’s chief rabbi, in a rare foray into the political space, penned an Op-Ed in the Times, accusing UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn of permitting “a new poison—sanctioned from the top” to take hold of the Labour Party, resulting in “the overwhelming majority of British Jews [being] gripped by anxiety” as the country heads to the polls in a little over two weeks.
In a moving, albeit saddening piece, Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis addresses the lengthy metastasis of anti-Semitism within the Labour party, urging UK voters to “vote with their conscience,” for “the very soul of our nation is at stake.” Mirvis’ piece should serve as a warning to American Democrats who have routinely excused and fomented anti-Semitism within their ranks.
Rabbi Mervis notes how the Labour Party has not only shamed those who have tried to address the problem but left thousands of reported cases of anti-Semitism simply unresolved. “The way in which the leadership has dealt with anti-Jewish racism is incompatible with the British values of which we are so proud — of dignity and respect for all people.”
The piece also touches upon the manner in which the issue has been politicized to the point of dehumanization, asserting that Labour’s failure to address the issue stems from “a failure to see this as a human problem rather than a political one.” Rabbi Mervias continues. “It is a failure of culture. It is a failure of leadership.”
UK Labour’s interest in addressing the accusations of anti-Semitism lodged against it is tepid, if even existent at all, partially due to a fear that offering redress for such offenses would involve an admission that they are legitimate enough to warrant response. And up to this point, Labour has performed a strange juggling act of both dismissing such claims and performing feigned attempts at response.
For what it’s worth, I don’t have a Times subscription, but after learning that this piece had been penned, I opted to sign up for one. The instant Op-Ed underscores something I have covered for quite some time – the rise of anti-Semitism on the British left, and more specifically, within the UK Labour Party.
There’s a patent acceptance of it within the party, so strong that earlier this year, nearly a dozen Labour Members of Parliament (MPs) opted to defect from the party. One such member, a prominent Jewish MP named Luciana Berger, announced in her resignation, “I cannot remain in a party that I have today come to the sickening conclusion is institutionally anti-Semitic…The leadership has willfully and repeatedly failed to address hatred against Jewish people within its ranks.” Another defector, MP Joan Ryan, heaped blame (rightfully so) on leader Jeremy Corbyn. “The Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn has become infected with the scourge of anti-Jewish racism. The problem simply did not exist in the party before his election as leader.”
Corbyn has a long history of playing footsie with anti-Semites, from appearing at a 2014 memorial honoring the anti-Semitic terrorists who killed 11 Israelis at the 1972 Munich Olympics to expressing support for an artist who depicts anti-Semitic imagery. But perhaps the most insidious example of Corbyn’s anti-Semitism isn’t really one isolated event at all—but rather, a lengthy exercise in apathy, from minimizing the existence of such complaints to failing to remove those at the center of them.
The UK Labour Party’s complicity with anti-Semitism is a harbinger of what may be in store for the American left, which continues to promote the likes of anti-Semitic figures such as Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory, as well as allows anti-Semitism to foment on college campuses under the auspices of “anti-Zionism.” A prime example of this phenomenon occurred last week at Vassar College, where a pro-Israeli speaker and Israeli Defense Forces’ veteran Hen Mazzig was shouted down by members of the student group Students for the Justice of Palestine. The protesters were screaming “from the river to the sea,” a refrain that calls for the ethnic cleansing of Jews from the state of Israel. But anti-Zionism is harmless, right?
Much like the UK Labour party, the American left engages in a strange pearl-clutching exercise when accused of anti-Semitism, then performs mental gymnastics to conclude that advocating for destruction of the world’s only Jewish state isn’t really anti-Semitism. Unlike the UK Labour Party, the American left is still pretending to care that anti-Semitism is an issue of genuine importance to them. With the rise of Marxist progressivism on the American left, it is difficult to project forward and thus determine how long this feigned interest will last. Indeed, excusing the anti-Semitic commentary of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) is just the beginning, but as with anything, excusing gets easier with practice until it’s second nature—just ask UK Labour.