What’s going on in the British Labour Party is deeply disturbing. I lived in Britain for many years and feel a strong affinity to the country. It’s still my fantasy island, but sadly, in an inverse relationship, the patina is wearing off as reports of anti-Semitism infecting the country’s politics increase.
The situation has become so severe that on April 17 a nearly three-hour-long debate took place in the House of Commons to discuss anti-Semitism. I urge you to read the transcript, available at hansard.parliament.uk. It is an excellent primer on what modern anti-Semitism looks like, and how it’s disseminated.
Jewish Labour MPs read, verbatim, excerpts of hate mail they have received in the recent past. Among them:
“Hang yourself you vile treacherous Zionist Tory filth. You are a cancer of humanity.”
“You are a spy! You are evil, satanic! Leave!”
“You are a Zionist plant, I’m ashamed you are in Labour. Better suited to the murderous Knesset!”
One can be deeply critical of Israel — one can even oppose the idea of Zionism — but, for me, there are three tests.
• Are Israelis and Jews being conflated; that is, are Jews automatically being attacked for Israeli policies?
• Is the critical language civil and political, or is it riddled with hate and anti-Semitic tropes?
• Is the person equally rabid about the actions of other nation states, or are Israel and Jews singled out? Does the person support the right of self-determination of other peoples?
If one starts digging into the case of the UK Labour Party, the associations of its leader Jeremy Corbyn and the talk it has generated on social media and elsewhere, the answers to these three questions will become eminently clear.
Shana Goldberg may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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