Jewish and Israel Studies scholars demand the right to spend donors’ money on legitimizing antizionism

During the Israel-Hamas conflict of May 2021, a number statements went round academia. They asserted that Israel is racist, settler colonial and apartheid, that it must be boycotted, and that justice for the Palestinians can only be achieved if Israel is dismantled. Further, they asserted that these principles were foundational to scholarship and to morality. They collected signatures. These statements constituted loyalty tests because the implication of a refusal to sign was clear: that the refuser is neither a genuine scholar, not a moral human being. They were antisemitic loyalty tests because they impacted specifically against Jews on campus and because they legitimized an antisemitic understanding of the world.

Follow this link to see a particular one of these loyalty tests that was signed by 220 Jewish and Israel Studies scholars. It is written with special attention to implying a lot but committing itself completely to very little. It is a twin document to the “Jerusalem Declaration”, which was put into the public domain in an attempt to weaken the IHRA definition of antisemitism.

This week a donor has pulled her money, which was being used to pay for the endowed Chair, in which Liora Halperin, who signed the May 21 letter, was comfortably sitting. Becky Benaroya had give $5M to establish Jewish Studies at the University of Washington.

“Based upon the direction the program had taken, my mom didn’t want her name connected with it,” Larry Benaroya, Becky Benaroya’s son and the current CEO of the family real-estate firm The Benaroya Company, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in an email.

In the new letter, the scholars say that: “Prof. Halperin, along with the other signatories, was expressing herself in the letter as a private individual, not in any official university capacity. But the very first words of the original 21 May statement were: “As scholars of Jewish Studies and Israel Studies based in various universities, departments, and disciplines, we condemn…” Which is close to a scholarly “asaJew”.

Unfortunately, although the new letter contains a number of hyperlinks, it does not contain a link to the 21 May letter.

The JTA article says that the donor was cross because the original statement was “Israel criticism”. The new letter says that ‘the signatories (of the 21 May letter) condemned the “state violence” committed by Israel and expressed solidarity with Gazans’. Well, who doesn’t?

But in fact the letter 21 may letter “acknowledged” the Zionist movement to be “a diverse set of linked ethnonationalist ideologies… shaped by settler colonial paradigms…”.

The drafters of the new letter also forgot to mention that the 21 May letter asserted that Zionism was shaped by “modern European Enlightenment discourses that assumed a hierarchy of civilizations and adopted the premise that technological progress and development of an ‘underdeveloped’ territory would be an unqualified good…”

And that the 21 May letter went on to connect Zionism, via some ambiguous wording that makes it slightly deniable, to “systems of Jewish supremacy, ethnonational segregation, discrimination, and violence against Palestinians…”

It then asserted that as Jewish and Israel Studies scholars they should “amplify and support” colleagues “whose scholarship details aspects of these histories”.

And it said that to uphold freedom of speech and academic freedom, Jewish and Israel Studies scholars must uphold the rights of colleagues and students to advocate for a boycott of Israel.

The 21 May statement was really an affirmation that Jewish and Israel Studies was prepared to fall into line with the antisemitic zeitgeist, that Israel is racist, settler-colonialist, Jewish supremacist and apartheid; and that there is no problem with advocating a boycott of it.

Money that is donated to research and teach about Israel is more and more being funnelled into antizionist writing, teaching and propaganda. When the donors complain that the people sitting in the chairs that they pay for are working against the very core values that they thought they were helping, academics scream that this is a violation of academic freedom and freedom of speech. They should be able to do what they like, and the donors should keep paying them to do it.

Generations of successful Jewish families have generously donated to Jewish Studies, Israel Studies, Antisemitism Studies, Holocaust and Genocide Studies. They thought they were doing something that would be good for Jews, good for the community as a whole, and good for the general understanding of Israel, the Holocaust and antisemitism. But the money has been taken by scholars who push and who legitimize antizionism, a worldview that puts Israel and then the Jews who feel themselves to be associated with Israel, at the centre of all that is bad in the world.

The significance of left and liberal antisemitism and antizionism are radically downplayed across scholarly life. Antisemitic ideas, assumptions and premises are frequently embraced on campus today and they are widely tolerated and seen as legitimate by those who do not embrace them. This proposition, along with the antisemitism inherent in much academic thinking, is generally and angrily denied. In practice, antisemitism is often thought of, presented and taught as liberational and anti-racist, while Jews are often portrayed as being central to, and symbolic of, oppression and injustice.

Scholars of antisemitism are frequently de-valued as unsophisticated and conservative, or as  propagandists for Israel; Israel is often conceived of as a unique or symbolic evil in the world. The serious academic study of contemporary antisemitism is not well supported by universities, mainstream disciplinary journals, publishers or funding bodies and it is not valued within existing academic disciplines.

Jewish Studies and Israel Studies, even Holocaust Studies and Genocide Studies, as disciplines, are in crisis. Where antisemitic thinking is not embraced, it is frequently tolerated. The material and moral pressures to accommodate to the culture in academia relating to antisemitism and to Israel have been strong. As Hannah Arendt observed, assimilation in a time of antisemitism means assimilating to antisemitism.

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The SA Constitution Court ruled that Bongani Masuku must apologize to the Jewish Community for antisemitic hate speech – David Hirsh

The Equality Court judgment of 2017, which enforced the South African Human Rights
Commission’s 2009 finding, that Bongani Masuku’s speech included antisemitic hate
speech, has been reinstated by the supreme court in South Africa.

From our point of view in the UK, the Masuku case remains the clearest single example of
campus antisemitism since the movement for an academic boycott of Israel gained a
foothold in our academic trade unions; and since the members, and the wider culture on
campus and in the unions, rallied round to whitewash the antisemitism of that antizionist
minority, or at least to tolerate it. This mainstreaming of antisemitism on the left paved
the way for Corbyn.

But of course this is first a South Africa story. The history of South Africa shows clearly why
they might choose to treat racist speech and ideas very seriously. People over forty can
vividly remember living under a regime in which ideas of “race”, defined in a pseudo-legal
way by those in power under apartheid, explicitly defined every citizen’s material reality. It
is a different history from that in the US, where an absolutist reading of the First
Amendment, which was written to guarantee freedom of speech, tends to insist that racist
ideas must be free and only racist actions can be addressed in law.

The Constitution Court really had to make two separate determinations today. The first
was whether the things that Bongani Masuku said in 2008 were antisemitic. The second is
whether those kinds of antisemitic statements should be prohibited by law as hate speech.
This is also a story about UK campus antisemitism because in the Autumn of 2009 the UCU
held an invitation only conference in private at which the union activists and officials
could be “educated” to accept the boycott of Israeli universities.

One of the speakers was Bongani Masuku. The Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) (similar to JVP
in America) of that time on campus was called “BRICUP” – the British Campaign for the
Universities of Palestine; the core of activists were the same people. BRICUP knew what
Masuku had said and it knew that he was under investigation by the South African Human
Rights Commission (SAHRC) for hate speech. SAHRC is the constitutional body set up by
the post-apartheid settlement to guard the antiracist values of the “rainbow nation”.
BRICUP still told UCU to invited Masuku and UCU obeyed.

Masuku was found guilty of antisemitic hate speech by the SAHRC on 3 December 2009.
Masuku spoke at this UCU conference two days later on 5 December 2009. UCU didn’t
care that he was an antisemite; more accurately UCU just denied it.
What had Masuku said that was antisemitic?

On the campus of the University of Witswatersrand (Wits), a leading university in
Johannesburg, in March 2009, and on blogs and at other events at that time, Masuku said
the following at a rally. He said it to people he designated as Zionists:

COSATU has got members even here on this campus; we can make

sure that for that side it will be hell.

COSATU is the Confederation of South African Trade Unions, which had once been a proud
instrument of working class opposition to apartheid. Masuku was its “international officer”.

“All those who deny that occupation is wrong must be encouraged to

leave South Africa before they infect our society with much more


He also said at the Wits rally:

“…the following things are going to apply: any South African family, I

want to repeat so that it is clear for anyone, any South African family

who sends its son or daughter to be part of the Israeli Defence Force

must not blame us when something happens to them with immediate


“…COSATU is with you, we will do everything to make sure that

whether it’s at Wits University, whether its at Orange Grove, anyone

who does not support equality and dignity, who does not support the

rights of other people must face the consequences even if it means

that we will do something that may necessarily cause what is

regarded as harm…”

Today’s judgment singles out the following in particular as antisemitic hate

“As we struggle to liberate Palestine from the racists, fascists and

Zionists who belong to the era of their Friend Hitler. We must not

apologize. Every single Zionist must be made to drink the bitter

medicine they are feeding our brothers and sisters in Palestine. We

must target them, expose them and do all that is needed to subject

them to perpetual suffering until they withdraw from the land of

others and stop their savage attacks on human dignity.”

UCU didn’t care. In its first Congress in 2007, UCU had passed as policy the claim that
‘criticism of Israel cannot be construed as anti-semitic.’ It rejected an amendment that
said: ‘While much criticism of Israel is anti-semitic, criticism of Israeli state policy cannot
necessarily be construed as anti-semitic.’

UCU regarded these statements of Bongani Masuku as criticism of Israel and so, by
definition, as not antisemitic.

In 2010, UCU Congress was invited to vote for a motion by which it would ‘dissociate itself
from the Maskuku’s repugnant views’. It did not pass that motion, it refused to dissociate
itself from Masuku’s repugnant views.

At its 2011 Congress UCU began its decade long campaign against what was to become
the IHRA definition of antisemitism because it worried that IHRA might designate UCU as
antisemitic. The campaign accuses IHRA of only pretending to care about antisemitism
but of really trying to silence criticism of Israel.

In South Africa, Masuku and COSATU ignored the SAHRC finding. Compare with the
Corbynite attitude towards the UK EHRC findings on Labour antisemitism in 2021.

In 2017 the SAHRC and the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBOD) took Masuku
to the Equality Court in Johannesburg, asking the court to enforce the SAHRC judgment of

David Hirsh was an expert witness in that case. Follow this link for his expert
witness statement.

The Equality Court did indeed enforce the SAHRC finding of 2009. Follow this link for
the judgment.
It said that. It said that

The impugned statements are declared to be hurtful; harmful, incite

harm and propagate hatred and amount to hate speech as envisaged

by the Equality Act…

The complaint against the respondents succeeds with costs.

The respondents are ordered to tender an unconditional apology to

the Jewish community within thirty days…

In December 2018 that judgment was overturned on appeal.
Today, after 13 years of political and legal struggle, the South African Jewish community
has got what it wanted all along. Simply, an apology. A finding that this was hate speech.
And so implicitly, an undertaking not to do it again. It was not looking for damages or even
costs. It did not want, as it was accused of wanting by the BDS campaign, its “pound of

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies has been fighting for 13 years for South
African society formally to designate this as hate speech. And it wanted an apology.
UCU should be held accountable for its decision to host Masuku, to associate itself with his
views, and to defend him for 13 years.
This is David Hirsh’s expert witness statement, which has now been vindicated by today’s

More background on the Masuku case is available here.

I am so proud to have had a role in this. A really good day for South Africa.

Antisemitism is always symptomatic of anti-democratic politics.

The Constitution of South Africa was written in dying days of the apartheid regime. The old elite had realised that the game was up and it was busily negotiating itself out of power.

The Constitution was the foundation of the new non-racial South Africa and the fruit of the struggle of the majority for freedom. It was the materialisation of the promises made in the Freedom Charter not to reverse the polarity of the racism but to build a democratic civic South Africa in which everybody would be an equal citizen and in which communities and ethnicities would relate to each other according to law. Without law there could be no democracy and no peaceful living together as equals. The absurd apartheid rules, enforced by naked power, were not laws. And only law could underpin the election of a parliament and a government.

COSATU was a proud element of this transition from oppression to law. It represented the concrete, achievable interests of mainly black working class people. There were once high hopes that it could act as an anchored counterweight to the populist nationalist potential of the ANC. But that wasn’t to be. COSATU did not end up moderating the anti-democratic currents in the ANC, rather, in this respect at least, it ended up feeding it.

The politics of picking on South African Jews, denouncing them as white, and then as white privileged, then as Jewish and white supremacists, was an anti-democratic, Stalinist, proto-totalitarian politics.

But the Constitution Court did democratic currents in South Africa proud today. It simply ruled that vile, clear, explicit and threatening antisemitism was not OK.

It shouldn’t have required a 13 year struggle through four tiers of the justice system. But in the end it came to the right result.

I hope that COSATU does not apologize like a 12 year old boy who has been caught bullying his little sister. I hope that COSATU opens up to the Jewish community in South Africa and apologizes in an engaged and serious way.

I hope that this will begin a new era for COSATU in which the experiences of the mainly black working class can be shared with the experience of the South African Jews, who were themselves chased out of, mainly Lithuania, by oppressors. They can learn from each other. This is of course a tradition that also has a long and proud history in South Africa.

Yesterday was a day for hope and a day of faith in law, and in law as the foundation of democracy.

Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika

David Hirsh

Sheffield Hallam University has an antisemitism problem – David Hirsh

File:Sheffield Hallam University logo.svg - Wikimedia Commons

There is a grad student, also employed to teach students, who wrote that “Zionist lobbies… buy presidents” and who praised terrorists who murder civilians as “heroes”.

In the past she linked to a video, ‘The truth about Zionist Jews’, which claimed that the Talmud licenses Jewish crimes against non-Jews.

She wrote that she wouldn’t use the world “Holocaust” to describe the way Israel relates to the Palestinians because the word is used to justify “the racist state of Israel”; and because use of the word “distracts attention from the Zionist practices of settler-colonialism and ethnic cleansing…”

In my view this discourse is antisemitic. You might disagree. Fine. We can have that debate.

But no, it’s not fine. Because this same student and teacher denounces people who believe that this discourse is antisemitic as “Israeli apartheid and propagandists”.

This is not about disagreeing. This is about people who speak up against antisemitism not being engaged in debate but being denounced as racist liars.

There have been two UCU motions passed in recent months on the topic. One of them said that anybody who thought it was antisemitic for David Miller to other his own Jewish students as “assets of Israel” was smearing the legitimate research of a good professor.

Both motions characterised the allegation that this kind of discourse is antisemitic as “malicious”. Not simply a disagreement, but a claim made for bad motives and in bad faith.

Both motions described this kind of discourse as being called antisemitic only because they are critical of “Israeli policy”.

This week’s motion said that “the attack is motivated by her defence of Palestinian rights and threatens academic freedom”. How does the UCU branch know what motivates criticism of this kind of discourse as antisemitic?

The student’s Director of Studies declared at the union meeting that those who say that this kind of discourse is antisemitic are part of a continuum with those, who for many centuries have been responsible for forcing “black and brown people…to justify what they have said”. It is extraordinary for an academic to refer to victims of racism as “black and brown people”; race is not colour, race is a social construction of power. And it is extraordinary to imply that if a person who might themselves be treated in a racist way says something antisemitic, then they should not have to “justify what they have said”.

It is extraordinary to treat good faith worries about antisemitism raised by Jews and their allies as though they were nothing but racist slurs.

The student said that the “Zionist Press” targeted her with allegations of antisemitism because she was “critical of Israel”.

A UCU comrade at the meeting said “if there are subterranean goings on…we need to know about it” – talking about unseen Zionist power behind allegations of antisemitism and influencing universities.

The student and teacher said a number of things that many Jews believe to be antisemitic. The Union branch, which represents Jews and non Jews, denounced the very idea as a malicious Zionist conspiracy.

The Union did not defend Shahd Abusalama on academic freedom grounds, it did not say that she’d said some silly and offensive things but they were not quite antisemitic, it treated her as a hero; a hero advocate of the oppressed, and a hero academic lecturer and researcher.

And the University itself said that the student’s discourse “fall[s] entirely within the boundaries of acceptable political commentary” and it did nothing. It cleared Shahd Abusalama; it did not use its own academic freedom to use this as a teachable moment; it was not critical of any of this “acceptable commentary”.

The student and teacher made a hero of the people who murdered Israelis, Christian pilgrims and a Canadian, at Lod airport in 1971; gunned them down as they walked through an airport.

At Sheffield Hallam, the student/teacher is now a hero, the union branch embraces her as a hero, and the university itself says that there is nothing wrong here and she is entirely fit to teach students: everything is “acceptable political commentary”.

And the Jews at Sheffield Hallam University are defeated, denounced as racists, made to feel pariahs in their union branch, and are left defenceless by their institution and undefended by their union.

What did they do wrong? They said that it’s false and offensive to denounce Israelis as being like Nazis, they said it’s wrong to murder Israelis at random, they said it’s wrong to accuse them of malicious motives, they said David Miller and Shahd Abusalama are not victims of a Zionist plot.

Sheffield Hallam UCU passed a second antisemitic motion yesterday

Last November, Sheffield Hallam University UCU passed an antisemitic motion in support of David Miller. The UCU branch rejected a motion that outlined in detail what may be antisemitic about Miller’s work and instead declared that it was not antisemitic. The branch blamed ‘external pressure’ and it said that the allegations made against his work, by his own Jewish students, by many scholars of antisemitism, by the institutions of the Jewish community and by the Parliamentary All Party Group against Antisemitism, were ‘malicious’. For more on that motion, follow this link. To see what Jewish students in Sheffield said about this motion, follow this link.

Yesterday, SHU UCU passed a second antisemitic motion, this time in support of Shahd Absulama, a PhD student and Special Visiting Lecturer who is currently being investigated by the University for antisemitic Facebook posts and tweets.

About using the word “Holocaust”, she wrote that she wouldn’t “use such a politicized word often used to justify the racist state of Israel” and that use of the word Holocaust “distracts attention from the Zionist practices of settler-colonialism and ethnic cleansing against the Palestinians”.

Another Tweet, since deleted, urged followers to watch a YouTube video entitled, “Truth About Zionist Jews.” This video reportedly presented numerous antisemitic myths about the Talmud.

Yesterday’s motion blamed the “Zionist press”, words used by Absulama herself who was present at the meeting, for targeting her because she is “critical of Israeli policy.” This seems to have been a reference to recent articles in the Jewish News and on the Campaign Against Antisemitism website.  

At the meeting, one member said, “if there are subterranean goings on like at Bristol University, we need to know about it”. It was agreed that Absulama’s “Palestinian Holocaust” tweet was “acceptable political commentary” and that the IHRA definition, adopted by the University in February 2021, was a being used as a tool to silence criticism of Israel.

Absulama’s Talmud tweet was excused on the ground that it was made in 2012 when Gaza was being “bombarded” by Israel: “everyone is entitled to make mistakes in the past for which they have publicly apologised” declared the motion’s proposer, despite there being no evidence of any apology, public or otherwise.

Absulama’s director of studies told the meeting that “black and brown people have had to justify what they have said for many centuries” and that “it is not by chance that the IHRA definition has been used against a young Palestinian scholar.”

The one thing that was not discussed at the meeting was antisemitism, except for a passing reminder by Absulama’s PhD supervisor that the term has been wrongly used to criticise Emma Watson for her support of the Palestinians.

One person spoke against and voted against the motion. When the 97% vote in favour of the motion was announced, there was spontaneous applause, and one member gave the black power salute. Absulama has since tweeted about her victory naming the colleague and union “comrade” who voted against the motion as speaking for “Israeli apartheid and propagandists”:

This is the motion that was passed:

Sheffield Hallam UCU branch notes:

  • UCU national policy on malicious allegations and the controversial IHRA definition;   
  • Sheffield Hallam University has in recent years demonstrated a rhetorical commitment to antiracism and decolonialism;   
  • Sheffield Hallam post-graduate student and Special Visiting Lecturer, Shahd Abusalama, a UCU member and Palestinian from Gaza, is accused by the Jewish News and Campaign Against Antisemitism of antisemitism for tweets condemning Israeli policy;   
  • Her posts fall entirely within the boundaries of acceptable political commentary;  
  • Shahd is on an SVL contract, affording her only ‘worker’ status, and few effective employment rights under UK law.    
  • SHU cancelled her contracted classes before notifying her of any investigation. While her classes have now been reinstated, which this branch welcomes, there remains an investigation into her conduct;

    Sheffield Hallam UCU branch believes:   
  • The attack on Shahd is motivated by her defence of Palestinian rights and threatens academic freedom;  
  • The adoption of the controversial IHRA definition by Sheffield Hallam is prima facie directly responsible for the situation that has arisen;  

    Sheffield Hallam UCU branch resolves to:   
  • Call for any investigation against Shahd that is premised on the IHRA definition and its examples to cease;  
  • Call for the university to issue an apology for the evident distress they have caused Shahd;  
  • Call for the university to ensure there are no further question marks over the employment protections she is entitled to by moving her on to a more secure contract;  
  • Call for a moratorium on the application of the IHRA definition;  
  • Be prepared to utilise a range of sanctions (withdrawing from negotiation and consultation, calling for a vote of no confidence in disciplinary processes at SHU, industrial action) should Shahd or any other member be victimised for the expression of legitimate political beliefs;  
  • Issue a public statement of support for Shahd;   
  • Urge UCU national President to ensure support for members targeted through the malicious misuse of the IHRA definition.  

“Thanks for nothing, Mr Wakeford – you’ve had your pound of flesh” – some thoughts, David Hirsh

In response to JC 26 January, “Thanks for nothing, Mr Wakeford – you’vehad your pound of flesh” 

Angela Epstein accuses Christian Wakeford, the Tory MP who joined the Labour benches, of a ‘stinging act of disloyalty’ and ‘hypocrisy’; she says he is ‘dishonourable’ and ‘duplicitous’ and that he has betrayed the Jews who voted for him against Jeremy Corbyn.

Wakeford ‘made us feel we were safe’ she writes. But we had little choice. Many of us felt forced to vote vote only as Jews against antisemitism and so for the Boris Johnson Brexit Party that we did not support. This did not make me feel safe. Epstein says she feels the ‘Jewish vote amounts to a pound of flesh after all’ but we should also reflect on the harm done by reducing us to a ‘Jewish vote’.

When Jews are accused of ‘wanting their pound of flesh’, they are being accused, in the  language of the blood libel, of lacking Christian generosity and of enforcing our bare rights in violation of decency and justice. She aims this usually antisemitic jibe at Wakeford, who is not Jewish but who is supportive of the fight against antisemitism.

Angela Epstein twice employs language generally associated with the devil. She says Wakeford is now ‘supping’ with Corbyn’s former comrades and that he has ‘sold his soul’ to save his political career.

I resigned from the Labour Party on 21 February 2019. There were good reasons to ‘stay and fight’ and many who did feel vindicated by events. If Luke Akehurst had not stayed, how would the proposal at Labour’s NEC to restore the whip to Corbyn have been defeated? If Adrian Cohen had not stayed, what would have happened to Labour Friends of Israel? If Keir Starmer had not stayed, and in Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, if he had not sidestepped some of the specific issues relating to antisemitism, who would be the challenger to Boris Johnson today?

I resigned because I was treated as a traitor: to the party, to decent values, to the left, to Britain. I was treated as an ‘Israeli asset’ and a closet racist, pretending to be on the left while really trying to help its enemies.

In a two party system, everybody has to pretend that one is a community of decent people while the other is morally corrupt. When antisemitism happens ‘over there’, it is symbolic of their moral corruption; but when it happens ‘over here’ it is only the odd bad apple.

It might not have gone so well for the ‘stayers and fighters’, even the ones who actually did fight. Many of them had promised to take a stand when they realised the antisemites had taken control. But when Luciana Berger, Chuka Umunna and the other five left on 19 Februry 2021, and Joan Ryan two days later, and a few brave Tories too, many MPs stayed in their comfy seats and portrayed themselves as the fighters; even Tom Watson, Corbyn’s deputy, who had sung Am Yisrael Chai to show how much he opposed antisemitism, who might have led a critical mass of Labour people, and who in the end went without a word about why.

And remember that the Tories were also a Zombie party at that time, killed, hollowed out and re-animated by a populism that was anathema to the values that the Conservative Party had embraced for decades. It also turned on its own MPs, like Anna Soubry, Rory Stewart and David Gauke; Even Ken Clarke; and made them pariahs. The Johnson Tories tried to close down Parliament, they denounced educated, hard working people as unpatriotic, they exhumed the totalitarian language of ‘cosmopolitans’, ‘metropolitans’ and the ‘liberal elite’; and they denounced high court judges as ‘enemies of the people’.

Politics is a dirty game. Maybe it was smart to hold tight, weather the storm, and position yourself for when it passed. Tom Tugendhat came into the Commons quietly, with the cohort of Brexiters who replaced the unperson Tories. Tugendhat was there to make his iconic speech against the Biden-Trump-Johnson agreement to leave Afghanistan to the Taliban.

Christian Wakeford was another in that cohort. While Luciana Berger was offering Finchley and Golders Green the chance to vote for an MP who opposed the mob politics of both Johnson and Corbyn, Wakeford was slipstreaming into Parliament proclaiming his readiness to vote for a ‘no deal Brexit’.

Today, Berger and Ummuna are forgotten and Wakeford is a proud Labour MP.

It is time to move on from the language of betrayal. Jews who have been active in the labour movement, or scholars or students in the humanities, or cultural producers in the arts, or teachers in our schools: most of us are pretty sick of accusations of disloyalty.

Left and right populism will be back, in Europe and America. The structures of the Labour Party have been cleaned up, it has formally recognised what it did and apologized, not least to its own whistle-blowers. The leadership is not antisemitic and Corbyn is not a Labour MP. Last year’s conference voted for the right motions against antisemitism but then it voted for the politics that underpins antisemitism: that Israel is apartheid and it should be boycotted and dismantled. There are reasons to worry about the right, too: its rhetoric about refugees and Muslims, its thirst for conflict with the European Union, its willingness to stoke the ‘culture wars’.

I do not forgive the Labour Party for the way it subjected me to antisemitism, and for the way it threatened British Jews. I will not rejoin but I could vote for it; other Jews are free, now, to make other judgments.

But Angela Epstein seems to have forgotten that it was Labour people like, for example Richard Gold, the Councillor in Bury, who understood the antisemitic threat most clearly. He has fought it for decades. Bury Labour did as much to fight Corbyn as Christian Wakeford did. We need a more engaged and reflective politics than ‘one side is good and the other is bad’.

David Hirsh
Senior Lecturer, Goldsmiths, University of London