Briefing for Labour people tomorrow morning – David Hirsh

Here is a list of things not to say:

  1. ‘I don’t think Jeremy Corbyn is an antisemite, he’s not a racist man…’

This distinction doesn’t matter anymore. Corbyn is imbued in antisemitic politics, he supports antisemitic movements, he defends antisemites against Jews, he says antisemitic things. He was so wedded to his antisemitism that it became more important to him to stay true to it than it was to win the election.

Antisemitism, like other racisms, is about what you do, not what you think you do.

  1. ‘Corbyn should have done more to tackle antisemitism.’

That gets it the wrong way round. Corbyn was the antisemitism which needed to be tackled. It was there in his politics, his worldview, and his political tradition.  Those in the party who thought like him were emboldened and those outside it joined. Labour antisemitism was not some random and difficult thing Corbyn was confronted by and had difficulty dealing with.

Corbyn said: ‘We recognise that anti-Semitism has occurred in pockets within the Labour Party’.

Jews replied: ‘You are the pocket!’

  1. ‘We are sorry for the hurt and offence caused to the Jewish community.’

This was not centrally about Jews, it was about the very heart of what the Labour Party is. Antisemitism is always attracted to anti-democratic politics. Antisemitism seemed normal in the Party because the Party had lost its democratic bearings. This scandal was not about a small offended minority community, it was a sickness in British public life.

But Labour antisemitism did hurt Jews. Jewish members of the Party, people with Labour values, were treated as alien, as supporters of racism and as disloyal. Jews in Britain were afraid of the prospect of Labour coming to power.

  1. ‘Jews pretended to experience antisemitism in order to silence criticism of Israel.’

The Macpherson principle is that when people say they have experienced racism, those in authority should begin by treating that experience respectfully.

The Ken Livingstone principle, on the other hand, taught antiracists to recognise those who said they had experienced antisemitism as the enemy and to assume that they were making it up.

  1. ‘Jews lied about experiencing antisemitism in order to smear Jeremy Corbyn because he threatened capitalism.’

Jews would like to be free to argue their politics. They would like to be free to argue with each other.  Jews do not all agree with each other, they do not have a single Jewish interest. Antisemitism, however, treats them as though they’re all the same and it forces them to come together communally to defend themselves.

When there is a huge consensus in the Jewish community that there is a antisemitism problem, it doesn’t mean that Jews are conspiring to defend capitalism; it means that there is an antisemitism problem.

  1. ‘Yes, there was antisemitism, but it was weaponized by the Zionists and the Tories against Labour.’This is a way of saying that there was a little bit of antisemitism but it was hugely exaggerated to hurt Corbyn. (see above)

    Notice also the way that the Corbyn faction spit the word ‘Zionist’ with hatred. When they use the word it means racist, pro-apartheid, imperialist, Nazi, Tory, Trumpy. But they mean me. They mean the overwhelming majority of Jews who think it is good that the Jews of Palestine didn’t get defeated and wiped out.

  1. ‘There may have been some institutional antisemitism in the Party but it was just a failure of systems, not a hatred of Jews.’

The fish stinks from the head. There wasn’t a particular Labour antisemitism problem under John Smith, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown or Ed Miliband. The problem was Jeremy Corbyn and his faction.

What started as antisemitic politics was then also embedded in the institutions of the Party by the powerful leading faction. John Ware’s Panorama and the whistle-blowers from inside the Labour machine testified that the internal party institutions were stopped from dealing with antisemitism properly.

Jeremy Corbyn was in charge when the party became institutionally antisemitic. The concept of ‘institutional racism’ does not exonerate the people who are responsible for the problem.

  1. ‘There were only a small number of antisemites in the Party.’

It was like the layers of an onion. There was only small number of people who fought long and hard for antisemitic politics. But they were surrounded by layers who thought they were cool and radical. And they were surrounded by layers of people who thought that this was really about supporting the Palestinians.  And they were surrounded by people who thought that the antisemites and the ‘Zionists’ were each as bad as each other. And they were surrounded by people who didn’t want to involve themselves in this horrible fight. And they were surrounded by people who didn’t want to seem disloyal. And they were surrounded by people who didn’t want to upset their friends.

What started with politics and institutional corruption then also became a culture in which those who complained about antisemitism were put, sometimes subtly and sometimes brutally, out of the community.

  1. ‘But wasn’t Jeremy Corbyn clear that he opposed antisemitism? His mother was at Cable Street, after all.’

Corbyn did often say he opposed antisemitism but he was never able to say what the antisemitism he opposed was. Corbyn’s worldview made it impossible for him to understand his own antisemitism.

He believes that capitalism-imperialism-modernity is the key aggressive machine on the planet, responsible for war, poverty and misery. He believes that anybody against capitalism-imperialism-modernity is therefore on the side of a better future.

So when people on the right are antisemitic, he understands that antisemitism is bad. But when people who he thinks are on his side are antisemitic, he cannot see it at all. He does not understand the menace of opposing capitalism-imperialism-modernity-Zionism!

If you only oppose the antisemitism of those you hate anyway, but if you say that the antisemitism amongst your own political community is invented by Zionists, then you don’t oppose antisemitism.

  1. ‘But Labour under Corbyn did expel antisemites, even Ken Livingstone and Chris Williamson!’

But Corbyn does not disagree with Livingstone or Williamson, they have the same politics. It’s true that they both enjoy saying explicitly what Corbyn became afraid to say when he was leader, but there is no difference of worldview. Corbyn also believes that antisemitism was invented or weaponized by Zionists and Tories. He believes it was a smear against him and his movement.

11.   But this is all word salad. What did Corbyn and his faction ever do or say that was really antisemitic?’

  1. Corbyn defended the antisemitic mural.
  2. Corbyn honoured the terrorists who castrated and murdered the Israeli Olympic team in 1972 in Munich.
  3. Corbyn defended Steven Sizer, a vicar who said that Israel was responsible for 9/11.
  4. Corbyn believes that Israel should be excluded from the global community of Art, scholarship, sport and business.
  5. Corbyn donated to Paul Eisen even after everyone knew he was a Holocaust denier.
  6. Corbyn defended Raed Salah, a man who pushes medieval blood libel.
  7. Corbyn says that Israel is apartheid.
  8. Corbyn was national Chair of ‘Stop the War’ which advocated war of annihilation against Israel.
  9. Corbyn believes that Hamas and Hezbollah, antisemitic organisations, are fighters for peace and justice across the Middle East.
  10. Corbyn worked for the antisemitic English language propaganda TV channel of the Iranian regime.
  11. Corbyn sat silently and watched Pete Willsman treat 60 rabbis as ‘Trump fanatics’.
  12. Corbyn sneered that Zionists don’t understand English irony.
  13. Corbyn wrote a gushing introduction for an edition of Hobson’s ‘Imperialism’, a profoundly antisemitic book.
  14. Corbyn commissioned Shami Chakrabarti to whitewash Labour antisemitism and then he put her in the House of Lords.
  15. When Ruth Smeeth asked for Corbyn’s help after she and Margaret Hodge were denounced in obscene, misogynist and antisemitic terms, Corbyn did nothing.
  16. When Luciana Berger was driven out of the Party by the misogynistic antisemitism of Corbyn’s allies, he did nothing.
  17. When Louise Ellman was driven out of the Party by the misogynistic antisemitism of Corbyn’s allies, he did nothing.
  18. When Joan Ryan was driven out of the Party by the misogynistic antisemitism of Corbyn’s allies, he did nothing.
  19. When Warren Morgan, Labour leader of Brighton Council, was forced out of the Party by Corbyn’s allies, Corbyn did nothing.
  20. When Dany Louise, a Labour councillor in Hastings, was forced out of the Party by antisemitic bullying, Corbyn did nothing.
  21. For 122 further documented and explained examples of Labour antisemitism, see Alan Johnson’s guide to Institutional antisemitism.

Their antisemitism was proven beyond doubt in the submissions to the Chakrabarti Inquiry, in John Ware’s Panorama, in Dave Rich’s book, in Alan Johnson’s Fathom report, in the documentation produced by Labour Against Antisemitism and the Campaign Against Antisemitism; in the Community Security Trust reports; in the journalism of Gabriel Pogrund; in the leaked evidence compiled by the Jewish Labour Movement to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission; daily on the Jewish Chronicle and Jewish News websites; in the testimony of the Labour staff whistle-blowers; in the tweets and facebook posts of hundreds of people who made it their business to confront the antisemitism; in the quantitative data of Daniel Allington and the Institute for Jewish Policy Research; in the experience of hundreds of Labour activists, both still in and forced out of the Party; in the antisemitic responses to well-known figures who spoke out like Rachel Riley and Tracy-Ann Oberman; in Judith Ornstein’s ‘Whitewashed’ and ‘Forced Out’ projects; in the stories of heroic Labour MPs, Ian Austin, John Mann, Mike Gapes; and particularly the women Labour MPs who endured a special antisemitism laced with sexually violent threat, Luciana Berger, Ruth Smeeth, Margaret Hodge, Joan Ryan, Louise Ellman and Anna Turley.

David Hirsh

One Response to “Briefing for Labour people tomorrow morning – David Hirsh”

  1. Richard Jankel Says:

    Thank you, David.

    With my best regards,

    Richard Jankel Director S. Kempner Limited 020 8952 5262


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