This is a cross post from David Schneider
“Boo! Corbyn needs to get out and meets some Jews!”
[Corbyn spends Passover with some Jews at Jewdas]
“Boo! Not those Jews!”
Yes, it’s time for another post about Labour and anti-semitism.
First up, to paraphrase D:Ream’s New Labour anthem (oh God, am I Blairite?), things have got a lot better. Corbyn has admitted there’s a problem, McDonnell has admitted there’s a problem, so have Momentum, the PLP, prominent Corbynites, even my cousin Michael (and believe me, if he’s admitted it, there’s definitely a problem). So if you’re still saying “it’s all smears! Show me the evidence!” then you are most likely part of the problem we’re trying to tackle.
Next, let’s talk about Jewdas.
“Why did Corbyn go to this far-left group for Passover!”, I hear people shout. Well, first of all, can we dispense with the belief that there are “good Jews” and “bad Jews”. Jews are not a monolithic body. One of my favourite Jewish jokes is this one:
A Jew is stranded for years on a desert island. The people who rescue him are amazed he’s built 2 synagogues. He tells them: “this is the one I pray in. And the other is the one I wouldn’t be seen dead in”
MORAL: There are lots of different types of Jews. There are religious Jews, atheist Jews, leftie Jews, Tory Jews, Zionist Jews, anti-Zionist Jews, tall Jews, short Jews, Jews who like Coldplay and Jews who listen to nothing but Motorhead (I think I might need to update my musical references). Corbyn should meet as many of them as possible, including Jewdas, who speak to a lot of Jews who don’t feel part of mainstream Anglo-Jewry.
As I understand it, Corbyn has reached out to the groups behind the demo outside Parliament, most notably the Board Of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council, but they’ve set out preconditions for meeting him. I presume his team will be looking at those preconditions but I wish there weren’t any. Come on, Jewish leaders, to combat anti-semitism in the Labour party, you should meet Corbyn and his team. Educate them. Explain how you feel. Don’t do preconditions. This isn’t a barmitzvah where you’ll only attend if they get the right caterer. And you can’t say “how dare Corbyn not meet us!” while telling him he can’t yet meet you.
It’s very possible that the Jewdas date was arranged a while back. Can you imagine the hoo-hah if Corbyn had pulled out of the event last night: “Corbyn pulls out of Jewish event, the anti-semite!” etc etc. The timing wasn’t great, especially given the Jewdas statement on the Antisemitism-in-Labour-gate, dismissing it as a smear. But hoo-hah, shmoo-hah, it was probably always going to be lose-lose for Corbyn.
I’m not saying Corbyn is the messiah. In fact, recent events have shown that he’s sometimes been a very naughty boy. But I do believe that now, finally, the Labour leadership realises there is a real problem with anti-semitism and is preparing to tackle it. Jew and non-Jew, leftie or not, we should do all we can to help.
Please enjoy my picture of Corbyn arriving at the Jewdas event.