Finally, NY Times op-ed page properly criticizes Corbyn’s anti-Semitism; chief rabbi warns of danger spreading

August 29, 2018

Even some commentators in the western media speaking out against Corbyn’s anti-Semitism have, in the very same articles, continued to spread misinformation about “apartheid” for Israeli Arabs. Such media misinformation is helping to fuel anti-Semitism. Above is a graph showing the actual situation. -- Tom Gross



[Note by Tom Gross]

For the past three years, since he became leader of the British Labour party and a favorite to become prime minister, I have noted that the New York Times (unlike other papers) has failed properly to cover Jeremy Corbyn and left-wing anti-Semitism in Britain, while writing about Corbyn.

Yesterday the New York Times opinion pages finally ran a piece clearly explaining the situation, by a Labour-voting journalist, the New York correspondent for the Sunday Times of London. The piece is below.

Also, yesterday evening, the widely respected former British Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks lashed out at Corbyn calling him an “anti-Semite” who “defiles our politics”.

The Labour leader, Sacks said, uses “the language of classic prewar European anti-Semitism… He has legitimized the public expression of hate, and where he leads, others will follow.”

In an interview with Britain’s left-wing New Statesman magazine, Lord Sacks said Corbyn was the biggest danger to race relations in Britain since the anti-immigrant politician Enoch Powell made his infamous “Rivers of Blood” speech in 1968.

In Britain, it is rare for prominent religious leaders to speak out forcibly against politicians.

Lord Sacks is a widely respected figure across British society.



Former UK chief rabbi Jonathan Sacks:

“When challenged with such facts, the evidence for which is before our eyes, first Corbyn denies, then he equivocates, then he obfuscates. This is low, dishonest and dangerous. He has legitimised the public expression of hate, and where he leads, others will follow.

“Now, within living memory of the Holocaust, and while Jews are being murdered elsewhere in Europe for being Jews, we have an anti-Semite as the leader of the Labour Party and her majesty’s opposition. That is why Jews feel so threatened by Mr Corbyn and those who support him.

“For more than three and a half centuries, the Jews of Britain have contributed to every aspect of national life. We know our history better than Mr Corbyn, and we have learned that the hate that begins with Jews never ends with Jews. Mr Corbyn’s embrace of hate defiles our politics and demeans the country we love.”

More here:

The full interview will be published tomorrow, Thursday, in this week’s New Statesman.



Labour’s own internal anti-Semitism advocacy group, Labour Against Anti-Semitism, said it had now lodged a formal complaint with the party against Corbyn for “anti-Semitism and for bringing the party into disrepute.”

On Friday, as I noted in my previous dispatch on this subject, The Times of London published an editorial calling Corbyn “straightforwardly anti-Semitic,” and concluding that his comments should “render him ineligible for membership, let alone leadership, of a democratic party and for public office.”



Today, the Daily Mail reveals yet more conspiracy theory against Jews and Israelis propagated by Corbyn.

Article and video here.


Who needs British anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists when you have Haaretz opinion writers?



Relatively few prominent British non-Jews have spoken out against anti-Semitism. There has been no comparable outcry as there would have almost certainly been had Corbyn adopted hostile positions to black people or Muslims.

One of the few to do so forcibly is Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, who is also one of the Labour Party’s biggest funders.

On Sunday, J.K. Rowling went head to head with a fellow writer on Twitter over his criticism of Jewish complaints about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

Rowling, who is not Jewish, tweeted in response to Simon Maginn, who has written five thrillers under his own name and satirical comedies under the name Simon Nolan:

“How dare you tell a Jew that their outrage is ‘patently synthetic’? How dare you demand that they lay bare their pain and fear on demand, for your personal evaluation? What other minority would you speak to this way?”

Rowling also tweeted several quotes from Jean-Paul Sartre’s essay “Anti-Semite and Jew”

J.K. Rowling has a very large twitter following.

Maginn accused Rowling of “libel” for publicly calling him an anti-Semite in one of her tweets, but tweeted that “I’m not going to mount a legal action against you because I haven’t got any money and you’ve got a lot, but false + defamatory = libellous. What a class act you are. What a nasty vicious little bully. Blocked.”

In April, she tweeted: “Most UK Jews in my timeline are currently having to field this kind of crap, so perhaps some of us non-Jews should start shouldering the burden,” she said. “Antisemites think this is a clever argument, so tell us, do: were atheist Jews exempted from wearing the yellow star? #antisemitism.”


JK Rowling has spoken out against anti-Semitism before, including in this letter which I helped her gather signatories for.

Here is a short interview with me (and the British ambassador to Israel) about that letter, with Israel Channel 2 news .

And perhaps more interesting to watch is this clip in wake of the JK Rowling letter. (It is part of a debate hosted by one of the leading female Muslim Arab hosts on Israeli TV Lucy Aharish, between myself and the head of “Peace Now” Yariv Oppenheimer.)



Getting Off the Fence About Jeremy Corbyn’s Anti-Semitism
I won’t vote Labour again until he’s gone.
By Josh Glancy
New York Times
Aug. 28, 2018

(Mr. Glancy is the New York correspondent for The Sunday Times of London)

Is Jeremy Corbyn an anti-Semite?

That is the question that has dogged British politics since Mr. Corbyn became the Labour Party leader three years ago. It’s also dominated every Shabbat dinner conversation and the WhatsApp thread of every Jewish family across Britain.

I didn’t want this to be true. Though the Anglo-Jewish community is increasingly Conservative, my Jewish friends and I are almost all Labour voters. That fact makes us close cousins of American Jews, who, as the saying goes, earn like Episcopalians but vote like Puerto Ricans.

As Jewish Labourites, we draw inspiration from a tradition that harks back to the Battle of Cable Street in 1936, when the left turned out in force to defend the Jews from Fascists on the streets of London. We all left university a decade ago dreaming of one day working in Labour politics.

But for the past several months, as scandal upon Jew-hating scandal has washed up at Jeremy Corbyn’s door, our parents and aunts and uncles have insisted that we were being loyal to a party that no longer wanted anything to do with us. Some friends began to leave Labour.

Consider the evidence, they told me. Mr. Corbyn has described the constitutionally genocidal Hamas as his “friends.” He’s appeared on stage with inveterate anti-Semites. He’s defended a mural that depicted hooknosed bankers running the world. He’s attended a wreath-laying ceremony that celebrated the perpetrators of the Munich Olympics massacre.

All of this was variously offensive, tone-deaf, ignorant or, at times, insidious. But none of these scandals quite clinched it for me. The associations were often tangential. And, I reasoned, there was the possibility of confusion: Mr. Corbyn is not exactly known for his sharp wits.

Then, last Thursday, The Daily Mail released a video of Mr. Corbyn speaking at a 2013 conference in London about Britain’s legacy in Palestine. The conference was promoted by the Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas. Other speakers included Stephen Sizer, who has appeared alongside Holocaust deniers at a conference in Iran. So far, so familiar.

What Mr. Corbyn said, however, was different. While bemoaning the activities of a group of Zionists, he identified two problems. “One is that they don’t want to study history, and secondly, having lived in this country for a very long time, probably all their lives, they don’t understand English irony either,” he said. “I think they need two lessons, which we can help them with.”

There’s been some debate over whether he was berating just that particular group of Zionists or Zionists in general. Mr. Corbyn, in a limp effort at explaining himself, has stated that he “described those pro-Israel activists as Zionists in the accurate political sense, not as a euphemism for the Jewish people.”

This is, to put it in British, utter tosh.

This was classic anti-Semitism. Here were a group of Jews with whom Mr. Corbyn has a political disagreement. And he smeared them not on the basis of that disagreement but on the basis of their ethnicity. He accused them of failing to assimilate English values, of not fitting in, of still being a bit foreign. Had they been Christian Zionists, he could not have insulted them in this way.

The video was a watershed for many. Daniel Finkelstein, a Tory peer and columnist for The Times of London, called the revelation “qualitatively different from anything that has come before.” Ben Judah, a Labour-voting author, said that “the nasty comment from Mr. Corbyn on ‘Zionists’ not getting ‘English irony’ has finally snapped the benefit of the doubt extended by many Jewish progressives.”

A writer for The Guardian, Simon Hattenstone, who has repeatedly defended Jeremy Corbyn against charges of anti-Semitism, called his speech “unquestionably anti-Semitic.” And it wasn’t just the Jews. George Monbiot, a giant of the British left, described the comments as “anti-Semitic and unacceptable.”

And from Mr. Corbyn’s most vehement defenders, such as the Guardian columnist Owen Jones or the Novara Media columnist Ash Sarkar? Crickets.

I’d always thought that if Mr. Corbyn was ever nailed down on this issue, he’d be spouting the anti-Semitism of the international left: Shadowy Zionist lobbyists. Omnipotent Rothschilds. Benjamin Netanyahu glorying in the slaughter of innocent children.

Instead we got something much closer to home. This was the anti-Semitism of Virginia Woolf and Agatha Christie. It was T.S. Eliot’s “lustreless” Bleistein puffing on his cigar and Roald Dahl insisting that “there is a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity.” The comments were more redolent of the genteel Shropshire manor house where Mr. Corbyn was raised than the anticapitalist resistance movements where he forged his reputation.

In recent months, most of the Anglo-Jewish community, normally happy to keep its collective head down, has been uncharacteristically vocal on the issue of Mr. Corbyn’s anti-Semitism.

I haven’t. It’s probably because I’ve lived in England all my life, but I don’t like to make a fuss. I recoil from the paranoia and neurosis that haunts many older members of my community, though I recognize its cause. I have never wanted to be a PTSD Jew, forever stuck in 1933. And I really do appreciate that parsing anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism can be a tricky business.

Perhaps the deeper thing keeping me on the fence is that I desperately didn’t want to face the reality that Britain’s possible prime minister is a man who traffics in an ancient prejudice against my people. What would that say about my party — and about my country?

Here’s what I do know: My fellow British Jews were right. I was wrong. From now on, Jeremy Corbyn has my loud and implacable opposition.


Among previous related dispatches:

* Guardian writer: Is my Jewish three-year-old too young to learn about antisemitism?

* Britain’s “next?” prime minister called terrorist who helped blow up café, “brother”

* “The worst cancer I’ve ever seen”


* You can also find other items that are not in these dispatches if you “like” this page on Facebook

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.