Jeremy and I

Image Credit “Happy Hanukkah, Chanukkah, Hanuka, Hannukkah Americanized Blue Star of David Holiday Ornament” by Lynn Friedman is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

We asked Nick Goldstein, our favourite Jewish Doncastrian to write a piece for our Christmassy issue reflecting his views on Jeremy Corbyn and anti semitism in the Labour Party. Before you read on, we’d just like to make it clear than any opinions, political or otherwise, are the opinions of our writers and not of Doncopolitan.

‘How did it come to this?’ floated through my mind, along with the odd expletive, as I scanned the ballot paper under the gently humming strip lights at Saint Francis church, Bessacarr on the wet and windy night of 12th December 2019.

 My normal electoral practice involved skimming through the candidates till I found what the Labour party had put up for election and crossing the suitable box for them. Since arriving at the age of majority I’ve held my nose and tried to focus on the “bigger picture” whilst voting but this time I was going to vote for another party, ANY other party! This was not a thoughtless act of political adultery driven by boredom. My choice of vote was a carefully considered scream of anger and pain at what the Labour party, my political home, had become. It was a vote against Labour as much as a positive vote for another party.

Why had a non-descript, average, middle aged Labour voter abandoned the party? The answer is: because as well as being a non descript, average, middle aged Labour voter, I’m also of Jewish extraction, and I believe Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party formed in his image to be anti semitic; and Jews tend not to vote for anti semites. How did it come to this?

The first time I came across Jeremy was in 2010-11 when I took my daughter and her mother to a ‘Stop the War’ demonstration in London. It’s never too early to get your kid into political protest and it was a nice sunny Autumn day, so why not? Why not became apparent rapidly! Even before the march had set off I repeatedly heard the hiss sound people make to imply gas escaping and laughter. Not good! So,I actively started listening to conversations around me and I hear “yids” and “murdering jews” and a lot more backward tropes that any Jew reading this will sadly know all too well. No one complained or called, what was blatant racism, out. So, I took my daughter’s hand, and we went home, because I didn’t want my child around that kind of ugliness.

Later, when my anger had cooled a little, I wanted to find out who was responsible for the demonstration and allowing the normalisation of antisemitism in a liberal democracy in the 21st century. After further research I found the list of members of the Stop the War coalition committee and discovered it to be chaired by a Labour MP I’d never heard of, the “honourable” Jeremy Corbyn.   

Time went on (as time has a habit of doing) and Jeremy slipped from my mind; until I heard the news that he was standing as the prospective Labour leader to replace Ed Milliband after Labour’s calamitous 2015 general election defeat. I knew the Labour Party’s “talent” had been decimated during the Blair V Brown wars, but still couldn’t believe Jeremy would win and become Labour leader!

I was wrong. Jeremy won. Helped by a shortage of plausible alternatives and some dumb changes to the party’s internal election structure (as an aside, NEVER let a political party’s membership decide anything!)   courtesy of departing Leader Ed. So, Jeremy became leader of a major political party – MY party!

It was at this point that I fully turned my baleful eye upon Jeremy Corbyn. I started some deep research into his background and wondered; ‘where is it all going?’

What I found out hardly encouraged enthusiasm. As much as most of Corbyn’s economic policies made sense and were badly needed, they didn’t make up for Corbyn’s disturbing foreign policy, which can be summed up, for me, as pro anything anti-western. Being anti-western covered up many sins for our Jeremy. Iran’s attitude to women or the gay community didn’t matter because they were anti-western. Russia’s attitude to just about anything or anyone didn’t matter because they’re anti-western. Venezula’s …….you get the picture.

On top of this,the old adage “you shall know them by the company they keep” rang alarm bells when applied to Jeremy, who it turned out had hosted Hamas in the house of commons as his “honour and pleasure”! It’s worth pointing out that Hamas is a terrorist group who’s main aim isn’t the creation of a Palestinian state,but rather the destruction of Israel. Hamas’ denial of the holocaust has a tendency to upset Jews and anyone with a conscience as well.

It’s not just Hamas and Jeremy’s warm feelings for them that was off putting. It turned out he’d also shared platforms with many deeply unpleasant anti semites and fellow travellers, a roll call of which is enough to scare any Jew. 

In 2014, my worries only grew after discovering that Jeremy had thought it appropriate to be part of a wreath laying ceremony for Salah Khalaf and Atef Bseiso, the masterminds of  Black September’s strike at Isreali athletes competing in the Munich olympics. Corbyn’s response, which amounted to “I was there, but not involved”, hardly helped. I’m now very worried and I’m also starting to think Jeremy might just be an anti semite himself!

In 2015, Corbyn had fought and lost a general election to the worst Conservative candidate and campaign possibly ever- certainly in living memory – but he maintained control of the Labour party and the role of anti semitism as part of the reason for the defeat was ignored. I vote Labour because I’m not totally sure if Jeremy is an anti semite, rather than just being dumb or unlucky. From the results it appears that I’m not the only Jew concerned with the party’s leadership though.

In 2018, a graffiti artist and blatant anti semite using the name “Mear one” posted a long facebook post complaining about the removal of one of his works in the east end of London. Corby replied offering his sympathy and questioning the removal of public art. Anyone who’s had the misfortune to see the image will appreciate how grim Corbyn’s response actually was because the piece in question is so anti semitic it wouldn’t be out of place in Der Sturmer, Julius Streicher’s infamous Nazi magazine. There is no way this piece of “art” can be construed as anything but anti semitic. Again, I  worry. I’m now pretty certain Jezza is a stone cold anti semite.

Unfortunately, not everyone came to the same conclusion. Many left-leaning friends were so enamoured of Jeremy that they couldn’t conceive that the nice, elderly leader of the Labour Party who gave his life to not just public service, but fighting inequality, could be anti semite. My reservations were met with comments like “it’s all a Blairite smear” or “Jeremy opposes all inequality-even anti semitism” or “look we know you don’t like Jeremy, but it’s him or the Tories”. When pushed, not one would say “anti semitism is wrong and we must stand by the Jewish community and fight it”. Not one! They either didn’t care or didn’t consider it important enough to define their voting. In fact,what often came up was how touchy the Jewish community was, in their opinion, and how wrong we were to complain – especially about dear Jeremy.

There’s something that needs saying before we go further and it’s this; Jews do not go looking for anti semitism. In fact, many Jews actively try and ignore it. None of us want to believe another human hates us purely on the basis of their race or culture. Rather than lecturing the Jewish community on how they should respond to anti semitism, there should have been an appreciation of how difficult it was for the Jewish community to speak out on the subject. Then again, the Labour party, under Corbyn, weren’t big on listening.

At this point, I’m pretty sure Jeremy is anti semitic, but it’s more a nasty doubt, despite the ocean of evidence that’s mounting to the contrary.

Then I saw footage of a speech Jeremy gave in 2013 which removed any and all doubt. “They don’t understand English irony”, claimed Jeremy. This is text book racism, not to mention evidence of his lack of understanding of Jewish humour. The quotation perfectly illusrated Jeremy negatively stereotyping a race – the Jewish race. Thank you, Jeremy! Now I could relax; I knew Jeremy was an anti semite and I’d have to find another party to vote for.

I might have come to this conclusion, but many others refused to and they argued vociforously that any suggestion of anti semtism within the Labour party was nothing more than a Blairite smear. It took the ECHR report to silence Jeremy’s support.

On 29th October 2020 the ECHR report on anti semitism in Jeremy’s Labour party was released making public “significant failings in the way the Labour party handled anti semitism” and “serious failings in leadership”. The conclusions don’t claim Jeremy was an anti semite; but then again that was never in the ECHR remit. What the report did do was put the Labour Party, the LABOUR Party, on the same level as the only other political party to fall foul of the ECHR and claims of racism; the BNP!

By then, of course, Labour with Jeremy at the helm had already gone down to another shocking general election defeat, which, taken with Jeremy’s equally shocking results in European and local elections, meant curtains for Jeremy.

So, why am I writing this twisted screed? I should be happy; the anti semite had been driven from power and life goes on, right? Wrong! I’ve heard no acceptance of guilt or received an apology from any of my left leaning friends. A level of silence has been created around these events and I fear it’s just a question of time before we hear alternate, fake versions of events. We live in an era of fake news, after all.

So, I’m writing this because what I really want to say is something I hope everyone takes onboard, and it’s this: never put party political loyalty before basic morality.

If we all remember this I’ll be a lot happier when I get back to St Francis Church, Bessacarr, to vote on Thursday 2nd May 2024.        

I promised my grandfather, who survived the holocaust, on his deathbed that I’d never stand by and let it happen again. That I’d always stand up to racism, because

“Don’t rejoice in his defeat,you men.

For though world stood up and stopped the bastard,

The bitch that bore him is on heat again.”

Bertolt Brecht.

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