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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 11/26/19

Antisemitism Claims Have One Goal - To Stop Jeremy Corbyn winning power

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The accusations relate to the
The accusations relate to the 'danger' that Corbyn could soon win power with Britain gearing up for a general election in less than a month
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A supposed antisemitism crisis in Britain's Labour party since Jeremy Corbyn became leader has erupted back into the headlines.

This time barely any effort has been made to conceal the fact that the accusations relate to the "danger" that Corbyn could soon win power, with Britain gearing up for a general election in less than a month.

This week Britain's chief rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, added his voice to argue in the Times newspaper that the opposition leader was "unfit for high office" the first time a serving chief rabbi has ever sought to interfere in the outcome of a general election. Calling Corbyn "mendacious" and warning that the election result would serve as a measure of Britain's "moral compass", he urged the public to "vote with their conscience".

His intervention followed a letter to the Guardian signed by a handful of public figures, including John Le Carre, Fay Weldon, Simon Callow and Joanna Lumley, pressing voters to reject Labour on 12 December. They wrote: "The coming election is momentous for every voter, but for British Jews it contains a particular anguish: the prospect of a prime minister steeped in association with antisemitism."

Calling on voters to listen to the Jewish community's concerns, and prioritise them over the likelihood it would give the Conservatives the chance to continue their austerity policies and push ahead with a hard Brexit, they added: "Which other community's concerns are disposable in this way? Who would be next?"

'Plans to emigrate'

Their remarks echoed those of Jonathan Romain, a senior rabbi in Maidenhead, the constituency of the recently departed Conservative leader Theresa May. In the pages of the Daily Mail this month, Romain pleaded with Jewish voters to choose any candidate but Labour's because Corbyn "poses such a threat to Britain's Jews".

Like many others making this accusation, Romain left it for his readers to infer what precisely the supposed "threat" consisted of. But to aid them, he repeatedly referenced the fight against Hitler and the Nazis, as well as the Kindertransport that saved many thousands of Jewish children from extermination camps by bringing them to Britain.

Meanwhile, the Jewish Chronicle's editor, Stephen Pollard, who has spent most of his career working for right-wing tabloid newspapers, used his paper's front page to warn readers once again of the Corbyn menace. He cited a poll last month that found 87 per cent of British Jews believed Corbyn was an antisemite. Some 47 per cent claimed they would "seriously consider" emigrating were he elected prime minister.

Evidence sidelined

The survey has been widely quoted as further, irrefutable proof that Labour has become "institutionally antisemitic" on Corbyn's watch. All the evidence shows otherwise, but facts have not held much sway in a debate driven chiefly by emotion and insinuation.

Last month the Economist magazine, no friend to Corbyn or the Labour party, published a survey of British attitudes towards Israel and Jews, broken down into ideological factions.

It found that "very left wing" voters the people who share Corbyn's politics were among the least likely to hold antisemitic views, even though they also had by far the most critical views of Israel. By contrast, supporters of the right were three and a half times more likely to express antisemitic opinions. The centre, representing the Lib Dems and the Blairite wing of Labour, expressed little antisemitism but also rarely criticised Israel.

The findings were clear: the left is not only highly resistant to antisemitism but recognises the crimes committed by Israel without holding Jews responsible. The Economist survey offered confirmation of Labour party records showing that instances of antisemitism among its 500,000 members were rare at just 0.08 per cent of the membership.

Media's influence

The evidence has, nonetheless, been overshadowed by the new survey suggesting that much of the Jewish community views Corbyn's Labour party as plagued by antisemitism. Who, after all, wants to tell British Jews that they don't know an antisemite when they see one?

But like a painting by an Old Master, layers of grime and dust have accumulated that need to be removed before we can see the true picture.

The reality is that the main impression most British Jews have formed of Corbyn has been one presented to them by the media a media that is hardly dispassionate about Labour's prospects. It is owned and controlled by large corporations that have benefited from decades of free-market fundamentalism Labour is now threatening to overturn.

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Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. He is the 2011 winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are "Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East" (Pluto Press) and "Disappearing Palestine: (more...)

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