British Jews have been trapped in Labour’s anti-Semitism twilight zone for more than three years, but this week’s intervention by former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks, comparing Jeremy Corbyn’s smear about British Zionists needing a lesson in English irony with Enoch Powell’s Rivers of Blood speech takes us down a yet murkier path.
Relations between British Jews and the man most likely to be the next prime minster have gone from bad to worse to desperate.
Twilight is turning to darkness.
The Labour leader’s unforgivable slur, accusing me and my fellow British born-and-bred Zionists of not being truly English, was the most depressing and distressing episode yet in a saga noted for its chilling low points.
Even level-headed Lord Sacks, a calm and considered figurehead not given to hyperbole, could bite his lip no longer.
For more than a century, Labour has proudly stood against racism like no other political mainstream movement. Yet an admired thinker like Lord Sacks has seen fit to publicly label its current leader an anti-Semite guilty of giving the most offensive political speech since Powell quoted one of his constituents saying: “In this country in 15 or 20 years’ time the black man will have the whip hand over the white man.”
The enormity of Sacks’ intervention cannot be overstated. So, where do we go from here?
Next week Labour’s National Executive Committee is expected to be coerced, kicking and screaming, into approving the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s standard definition of anti-Semitism, albeit loaded with caveats giving party members wiggle room to call Israel racist without risking expulsion. It will do little or nothing to lighten the mood.
Corbyn only has one card left to play – to speak with brutal honestly about his own conduct. His years taking tea with more nutters than the Mad Hatter; pandering to the psychopaths of Hamas and Hezbollah; standing shoulder-to-shoulder with scumbag Holocaust deniers and screw-loose Islamist hate preaches; mourning the death of the Munich Olympic murderers; calling those behind the murder of a Jewish bride and her father on her wedding day “brothers”; being paid thousands of pounds to spread filthy conspiracy theories about Israel on Russian and Iranian propaganda TV channels. Corbyn is a man flailing in his own filth.
Of course, he will claim until his last breath to be pursuing a just peace for allsides, but Corbyn is no honest broker. An intermediary does not support one side while openly attacking, alienating and insulting the other.
Most tellingly, it’s not just Lord Sacks who thinks Corbyn has crossed the red line from anti-Zionism into anti-Semitism. His party’s flimsy 2016 inquiry into Labour anti-Semitism, authored by the conspicuously silent Shami Chakrabarti, also finds him guilty as charged.
On page 12 of 28, now Baroness Chakrabarti writes: “Crucially, I have heard testimony and heard for myself first-hand, the way in which the word ‘Zionist’ has been used personally, abusively or as a euphemism for ‘Jew’.”
You know you’re in trouble when the woman you gifted a peerage to in return for firmly closing the lid on your anti-Semitism crisis inadvertently finds you guilty as charged.