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Richard Mellor

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British Jews, Corbyn and the Labour Party
« on: August 09, 2018, 06:56:22 PM »
British Jews, Corbyn and the Labour Party

Facts For Working People shares this article for the interest of our readers. It was originally published in the UK's Jewish Voice For Labour.

Enough Already
JVL Introduction
 David Rosenberg captures the feeling of many when he writes ?The  self-proclaimed and self-important leadership of the Jewish community?  don?t want to talk to Jeremy at all ? they just want to talk at him?  They want to humiliate him.?

 He ends with a ?plea to Jeremy and his supporters [to g]et back to  discussing and promoting Labour?s core issues over which it is at war  with the Tories, in public meetings and open air rallies around the  country, and, in the meantime, start to meet with those Jews who are  sincere and not playing power games or using diversionary tactics that  seem designed only to help Theresa May and Benjamin Netanyahu.?

Time to call their bluff

David Rosenberg, davesrebellion
6 August 2018
 
It is surely getting near to the time when Jeremy Corbyn will need to  call their bluff. Whose bluff? The self-proclaimed and self-important  leadership of the Jewish community, who don?t want to talk to Jeremy at  all ? they just want to talk at him. When Jesus said ?It is better to  give than receive?, the Board of Deputies thought he was talking about  ?advice?. They want to humiliate him. They want to drive him from  office, to save Theresa May?s bacon (or salt beef, if you prefer), and  keep us all nervous about discussing the rights of Palestinians.
 
But he?s got to speak to Jewish leaders ? we elected them. Didn?t we?  No, very few of us Jews did that. Jewish Leadership Council? Unelected.  They just announced themselves. Chief Rabbi? No, appointed not elected.  Campaign Against Antisemitism? Where the hell did they come from?  Completely unelected. Ah, but the Board of Deputies ? some of them are  elected. No? Well, in theory, yes. If you are a member of a synagogue  you might get a vote, but in some synagogues not if you are a woman. How  many elections are contested? What percentage of voters take part? When  did your synagogue last change its deputy? What ? as long ago as that?  And then there are a lot of Jews are not members of synagogues. Hmmm,  that?s a problem. And, at the end of the day, decisions of the Board are  made by paid officers not ordinary elected members.
 
They talk in such portentous tones. But for them it is a sick game.  Make a statement about this. Apologise for that. Get rid of this person  from the Labour Party. Disown that one! ?.antisemitism, antisemitism,  antisemitism. Probably the least of their nefarious activities is how  they have cheapened and devalued that term to the point where ordinary  people outside the community are getting dangerously tired of hearing  about it and might not react to actual cases.
 
There have been so many ridiculous allegations against Corbyn ? the  latest one about how offensive it was for Jeremy Corbyn to release his  statement just a few hours before the Sabbath! (A bit like the Jewish  Chronicle every week.) When I heard that one I really didn?t know  whether to laugh or cry.
 I think I actually cried.
 
I cried for the ordinary people of Britain, who include a significant  number of Jews, struggling to get by as the wealth gap increases. And I  cried even more for the real have-nots, the growing number of homeless I  pass in the street. The people in one of the richest countries in the  world looking at the future with hopelessness and desperation.
 
I have heard Jeremy say on more than one occasion that if he becomes  Prime Minister he would want to be judged first and foremost on what he  had done for the homeless. Sadly he will have been the first Prime  Minister to have had that priority. How criminal would it be, if this  autumn there was an election, but the current government of Foodbank  Britain, Grenfell Tower, zero-hours contracts, the Windrush Scandal, of  Yarls Wood Detention Centre etc. etc etc?(together with its bribed  bigots of the DUP), continued to be in office because enough people had  been brainwashed into not voting for Jeremy ? the ?fucking antisemite  and racist? as one of his own MPs disgracefully called him? Or because  so much possible campaigning time was wasted on the false outrage of a  few loud, but actually unrepresentative, self-defined Jewish leadership  bodies, who are a bit top-heavy with Conservative supporters in any  case.
 
Those ?leaders? could have met Jeremy last Friday at mid-day at the  Jewish Museum (I was invited too). The Museum agreed after a little  wobble, but as one of the main culprits, Jewish Chronicle editor,  Stephen Pollard gleefully claimed in a tweet, many of them were emailing  him to say they would boycott the museum if the meeting went ahead  there.
 
Many more Jews, beyond those ?leadership ? bodies could have met  Jeremy to discuss matters three months ago, but the very same people  complaining ?But he won?t meet us?, made it clear that they wouldn?t  attend if certain other Jewish groups (who they might have disagreed  with) attended. The whiff of hypocrisy is in danger of becoming a  stench.
 
I have this fantasy that Corbyn does meet these ?leaders?, and they  agree that he can set the agenda. He puts foodbanks at the top, then he  poses the question: ?What is the Jewish community?s view on foodbanks?  Are they good or bad? What might be the best way of reducing the need  for them without harming those who rely on them? And then he brings up  transport, and asks for the Jewish community view on renationalisation  of the railways, to which these leaders reply: ?I don?t know really, we  would need to talk to our communities, gather different views??
 
And then he says quietly, ?But you seem to know very well, without  any consultation at all, what ?the community? believes about the IHRA  examples, their attitude to Israel/Palestine, don?t you??
 Well it is just a fantasy. But it reveals a truth. There is a very  great deal of point to Jeremy meeting with, and listening to, the issues  and concerns of ordinary Jews, especially those Jews who he can find at  least some common ground with. There are a lot of us about.
 
I can remember the day he was elected leader in 2015. Within minutes  of the result being announced, he rushed off to speak at a huge  demonstration on an issue that has been close to his heart for decades ?  supporting refugees. I may be wrong but I don?t recall his detractors  (Hodge, Austin, Berger, et al) being there. But I do remember being part  of a very large Jewish bloc on that demonstration, with a huge  contingent from Liberal and Reform synagogues, especially younger  people.
 
I know many of those Jews who have shared the same desire that Jeremy  has displayed throughout his political career, for social justice, for  community, for human rights, would relish the opportunity to sit down  with him and give their range of perspectives on the issues that are  being talked about in such a narrow and destructive way. For all the  well publicised stories of Jews leaving the Labour Party, I know many  Jews who have joined Labour since he became leader.
 
Back in April he had a very relaxed encounter with 100 young Jews. He  spent four hours at a Seder night to mark the festival of Passover with  them, and a few older ones (like me). But for his troubles he was  denounced as an antisemite, and seen as particularly reprehensible by  the Daily Mail for sitting on the same table as me (a ?left-wing  author?, no less.)
 
It was important that Jeremy has now made a public statement in his  own voice on the painful current disputes. I have small quibbles with  it, but in general I think it was a very good statement. It reassured  Jews who wanted to listen. It set out in a very clear way his commitment  to them as citizens, as members of a minority community, and as Labour  Party members. It acknowledged communal diversity and the significant  input of non- and anti-Zionist Jews in the party alongside those  committed to Zionism. It argued forcefully that the perspective of  Palestinians in the party should not be censored or penalised, and that  anti-Zionism did not equal racism. He spoke of the recent killings of  Palestinian civilians, and condemned the new Nation-State Law in Israel  that has formally turned Palestinians and other non-Jews into second  class citizens.
 
He openly acknowledged that the party faced some genuine issues  around antisemitism but put it in perspective. The complaints ? which  must be fairly heard and more speedily ? involve less than 0.1% of the  membership. (Note to the press who talk of hundreds of incidents ? these  are complaints and allegations that have yet to be tested for the  evidence).
 
I would have liked to have seen him develop the point near the end of  the statement where he referred to the common threat to Blacks,  Muslims, and Jews from the Far Right, here and in Europe. We urgently  need to have strategy discussions on this among the threatened groups.  Though if you saw how reluctant our ?leaders? were to sit in a room with  other Jews they don?t control politically, they would no doubt be even  more nervous of groups outside the community. I can think of many Jews  from a number of organisations who would jump at the chance to take part  with the Labour leadership in constructive anti-racist discussions with  representatives of other minority groups.
 
So my plea to Jeremy and his supporters for how we go forward from  here, is quite simple: Get back to discussing and promoting Labour?s  core issues over which it is at war with the Tories, in public meetings  and open air rallies around the country, and, in the meantime, start to  meet with those Jews who are sincere and not playing power games or  using diversionary tactics that seem designed only to help Theresa May  and Benjamin Netanyahu.
 

Source: British Jews, Corbyn and the Labour Party