Every Thursday, for almost a decade, I’ve cautiously checked social media for the latest Jewish Chronicle and Jewish Telegraph front pages. As editor of rival title Jewish News, seeing if the other community papers have bigger stories, or have presented them in a more engaging way, helps gauge how well I’m doing my job. It’s a fierce but healthy rivalry.
Not this week.
This week I slept with the enemy, and the enemy slept with me.
For the first time (I believe) in the history of British newspapers, three competing publications ran an identical article on the front page.
We did so because of the carefree contempt the Labour party has shown our readers under Jeremy Corbyn.
Be in no doubt. Many, many Jews in Britain fear Corbynism, to the extent that our fractured community, famed for “two Jews, 22 opinions” has come together as never before.
Today, under the headline “United We Stand”, all three newspapers carry the following editorial:
“The party that was, until recently, the natural home for our community, has seen its values and integrity eroded by Corbynite contempt for Israel and Jews. So, Britain’s three leading Jewish newspapers – Jewish News, Jewish Chronicle and Jewish Telegraph – take the unprecedented step of speaking as one.”
It’s been three long and painful years, from the whitewashed Chakrabarti report (at a puny 30-pages, even the author admitted “it won’t keep you up late”), to unpunished Ken Livingstone’s contention that the man who slaughtered six million Jews “supported” a Jewish homeland, to Corbyn’s apparent defence of an anti-Semitic mural (a spokesman later claimed he was defending freedom of speech).
Then the final straw – last week’s dilution of the International Holocaust Remembrance Association’s standard definition of anti-Semitism, one followed by the government, 130 local councils and the Crown Prosecution Service. Labour removed and amended four examples relating, you guessed it, to Israel – allowing party members to claim British Jews have dual loyalty to Israel and compare Israel to Nazi Germany, and NOT be accused of Jew hate.
In response, 68 rabbis, from secular to religious, signed a letter compelling the party to stop “claiming to know what’s good for our community in the most insulting and arrogant way”.
Even the Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, weighed in, warning Labour’s watered-down anti-Semitism definition sends “a message of contempt”.
The response from Corbyn’s office? “We will not tolerate anti-Semitism in any form whatsoever.”
The man who could be PM believes the reality-defying guff his party spouts ad nauseam because the phrase “I HATE ISRAEL” is written, in capital letters, through him like Brighton rock.
He never breaks character, never reconsiders, never thinks twice.
Corbyn is not a work in progress, he’s a piece of work.
When anti-Semitism or other forms of racism appear in UK political parties, it tends to spread from the bottom up. But the rejection of the standard international definition of anti-Semitism in the Labour party came from the top, and it is this which provoked the three newspapers’ “United We Stand” front page.
Last week, Labour MP Margaret Hodge called Jeremy Corbyn an anti-Semite. The incident sparked a debate about who was more wronged. Perhaps a more profound question to ask is what attracts so many anti-Semites to the Labour party?
That answer is sadly all too straightforward: Jeremy Corbyn.
• First publish by the New Statesman
On BBC News, discussing this story: