It is time for Corbyn to go

If you proudly announce to me that you voted Labour in the last election, you don’t get it

Jeremy Corbyn at the August 2014 No More War protest in Parliament Square

Jeremy Corbyn. Those two words are enough to set hearts racing across university campuses, not least in Oxford. Students love him, lifelong Labour voters love him, ordinary people love him. In short, very smart people can’t get enough of him.

And I’m sorry if this sounds tried, or if you’ve heard it all before. I’m sorry if you think I’m picking isolated incidents and construing a narrative. Most of all, I’m sorry if you think I’m overreacting. Because it means you don’t get it.  

If you proudly announce to me that you voted Labour in the last election, you don’t get it. If you wear a Jeremy Corbyn T-shirt, you don’t get it. If your only analytical engagement with the man is sharing articles detailing how ‘the media simply isn’t giving Jezza a fair shake’, you don’t get it.

I’m a Jew, and the idea of Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister worries me. And if you can’t join with me in that worry, then I’m afraid that’s a problem. You don’t get it.

News has just broken that several years ago Corbyn commented his support on Facebook to an artist who had had a mural of his removed. The mural depicted old Jewish men playing monopoly on the backs of slaves with the illuminati image in the background. It’s a problem because it depicts Jews as obsessed with money. It’s a problem because it depicts Jewish financiers as controlling the world. Most of all, it’s a problem because it’s not the first time Corbyn has been caught out for saying or doing something that can reasonably be construed as anti-Semitic.

Watch the Andrew Marr interview with Tom Watson which details the mural episode. Write down on a piece of paper how appalled you are on a scale of 1 to 10. Then imagine that a politician had given the same message of support to an artist who had painted something clearly racist, or homophobic. Write down how appalled you would be in that situation on the same scale. If there’s a difference between those two numbers, then I can tell you something: you are part of the problem.

During the last election, people I really respect told me that they were voting Labour. Without prompting, many of them followed this with something along the lines of ‘I can understand why you as a Jew might have a problem with that, but I think he’s exactly what this country needs’. But imagine a man saying something similar to a woman who was worried about a politician who had said and done decidedly misogynistic and sexist things. Why is there this double standard?

Aside from mural-gate, it recently emerged that Corbyn was a member of a Facebook group called the ‘Palestine live’ forum, which was regularly home to horrifically anti-Semitic posts. Since this emerged, Labour has suspended several members who were associated with the group, but of course not Corbyn. If that doesn’t concern you, perhaps try contemplating the fact that Corbyn has referred to his ‘friends’ from Hamas and Hezbollah, terrorist organisations who have the stated aim of killing Jews.

Still not convinced? Maybe look to what has happened in the wider party since Corbyn became leader. Ken Livingstone has still not been expelled from the party, despite incurring anger from across the Jewish community for repeating his ‘Hitler was a Zionist’ line. Also not expelled is Jackie Walker, who criticised Holocaust Memorial Day and questioned the need for Jewish schools to have extra security as a safeguard against attacks. Large groups within the party have called for the expulsion of the Jewish Labour Movement for ‘crying wolf’ to the newspapers every time another incident emerges. Fringe speakers at the most recent conference urged the party to open up debate on such questions as whether the Holocaust actually happened. There are more examples than I can count of rife antisemitism within the party.

It is now time for woke Corbyn supporting students and voters to be honest with themselves. If you’re voting for Jeremy Corbyn, if you want him to be the next Prime Minister, if you’re willing to overlook facts because you believe in his policies, then know this: you are actively ignoring the concerns of the Jewish community. You are remaining wilfully ignorant of the concerns of Jewish students. You are treating antisemitism as fundamentally less important than other forms of prejudice.

And that’s not okay.

10 COMMENTS

  1. Absolutely rubbish article. I voted for Corbyn and I don’t understand why you have a problem except you are, of course, a non Labour supporter. If you think you can supply valid reasons for voting Tory you are part of the problem. If you cherry pick your examples to attack Corbyn you are part of the problem. If you believe in a one party state, Tory or Red Tory, you are part of the problem.

    • Brilliant article. The problem is this. The Labour party has a huge problem with its members, councillors and even some of its MPs sending anti-semitic material, associating with anti-semities and making excuses for anti-semites. No party can be truly Socialist if it turns a blind eye and even condones racism and harms minorities. Some Labour members are arguing now that anti-semitism might be a price worth paying to end austerity and end Tory government. In a similar way, in the 1930s there were many Germans who viewed Jew hatred as distasteful but thought that for a stronger Germany and a better economy it was worth it. In essence, they believed that Nazi policies were for the many and not the few.

    • Rob. You need to consider why life long Labour supporters including many MPs are in utter despair. Alan Bull writes appalling stuff and Christine Shawcroft simply passes it off as a partisan dispute. Legimate concerns are being raised within the PLP but with the far left there is no room for debate. The ‘you’re either with us or against us’ mentality is straight out of the Marxist songbook. Hence insult replaces debate and slurs substitute for reasoning. We all hope debate within a great University doesn’t decline to this level.

  2. Hey, so, I have a couple of questions because I found this argument confusing…when I saw a picture of the mural I didn’t see “Jewish” bankers, just a bunch of old white guys which could be of any religion. Why would it be anti-semitic to draw attention to inequality between an elite 1% of primarily older white men and the general 99% in a mural? I don’t think critiquing capitalism or the role of bankers in perpetuating inequality is anti-semitic? Like I understand there’s a conspiracy theory out there linking Jewish people to banks. But I don’t think the artwork portrays that just from the image itself? Am I missing something? Why are the white men sitting at the table Jewish? Maybe it is naive to assume that Corbyn saw the mural the way I did…but if he did, would it be possible to forgive him for an apparently incorrect or overly-innocent interpretation?
    Also, correct me if I’m apparently wrong, but supporting the rights of Palestinians is not anti-semitic, nor is a critique of Zionism anti-semitic. There are plenty of non-Zionist, Zionist-critical and anti-Zionist Jews out there…the organisation Jewish Voice for Peace is a significant example. Being in a Facebook group like “Palestine Live” indicates support for Palestinians in the face of displacement, not bad will for Jewish people. ..And nobody has any control over what other people post in a group called “Palestine Live”.
    Then again, I also want to validate your experience with this, and the extent to which Jeremy Corbyn’s actions have had a serious and harmful impact. But I think there needs to be a bit more clarity about these issues before I can take a side.

    • Regarding your first question – firstly, the artist stated that some of the men were Jewish, but secondly and more obviously, the artistic style of the men (especially the obvious large noses) is exactly reminiscent of the old anti-Semitic stereotypes used to depict Jews, most famously in 1930s Germany. Anyone who has an awareness of the history of Nazi propaganda should have been able to recognise the anti-Semitic tropes in the mural instantly. The idea of a Jewish conspiracy (only thinking about money, controlling world finance, and especially with the symbol of the illuminati in the background) reinforces all of those anti-Semitic tropes.

      • The triangle is also a symbol on the US dollar, not just the “illuminati”.
        I didn’t know that the artist was admitted that but did Corbyn know that? I think that’s the question that needs to be answered. If yes, shame on Corbyn. If not, I’d be willing to let him apologise, make an extra effort for the Jewish community, and get on with it. In general, why would anyone assume that someone has studied Nazi propaganda? Or that someone who looked at a nazi poster 30 years ago in history class would immediately associate an image of 5 men (two of which maybe have large noses…but it’s also a cartoony depiction anyways…so that’s quite a jump to make) with Nazi-style propaganda? I understand the interpretation and why the tropes appear to be present, but I would caution jumping to these conclusions about Corbyn’s intent without better evidence.

  3. “I’m a Jew and my concerns must come first,” is essentially the message of this article. You’ve likely got a future in journalism since this is the line taken by all the papers (readers can work out for themselves why that might be). And of course there’s nothing wrong with you, as a Jew, being primarily concerned with Jewish issues, with what people may or may not think of Jews, etc. But to insist that we gentiles also put your concerns first at the expense of our own is unacceptable; it is outrageous, in fact.

    As for this latest ‘scandal’, the timing is just a bit suspicious, don’t you think? The mural was removed six years ago, and the Jewish Chronicle published an article about it in 2015, but now, just in time for the 2018 Local Elections, it’s become a crucial issue. It’s very similar to how Naz Shah posting a meme from Norman Finkelstein’s Facebook page blew up and made people’s views on Israel and Palestine a big issue in the 2016 Local Elections (in the media that is; I doubt many were taking about it on the doorstep). Plenty of us see quite clearly what’s going on. And it’s so blatant that many of those chary of saying so publicly must habour doubts.

    We live in a country where Tory austerity has caused millions to use foodbanks, where sick and disabled people are told they’re fit to work before they drop dead the following day/week/month, where the government is putting our future at risk with a hard Brexit, where the 1% get ever richer and poor children have their school lunches snatched away from them, and yet, according to you and so many media articles I’ve read these last weeks, we’re supposed to be more worried about Jeremy Corbyn, the man who actually plans to do something about all of this, commenting on a questionable mural in 2012 and some off-colour remarks by Ken Livingstone? No thanks. I and many others have our own concerns, and we shall put those first rather sabotage on your behalf the man who will address them. For the many, not the few.

  4. I think the article and argument contained within is fundamentally sound and cogent. As is stated in the article, those who quibble with the author’s argument and indeed the author’s worries, which even as an Episopalian I share, need to examine why that is. I also think that some of the other comments below this article are, let’s just say, revealing.

  5. “I’m a Jew and my concerns must come first,” is essentially the message of this article.”

    No, but thanks for illustrating the author’s point so well. Your point would fit equally well in the context of 1930s Germany. First they came for the Jews…

    • And thank you for failing to make any substantive point and a lazy and inaccurate reference to 1930s Germany.

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