Commentary Magazine

The Rot in the Labour Party

AP Photo/Armando Franca

On Tuesday, Britain’s Labour party adopted the working definition of anti-Semitism that prevails across the civilized world. But don’t break out the champagne and party blowers quite yet. A formal declaration of the kind won’t wash the stain of Jew-hatred left by leader Jeremy Corbyn and his triumphant entourage of keffiyeh-clad cranks and unreconstructed Stalinists.

At issue was the definition of anti-Semitism used by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, or IHRA, and specifically the 11 examples that help clarify that definition: “Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.” “Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.” “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.” And so on.

Apparently these propositions are a source of great agony on the British left. The Guardian newspaper said the debate inside the party’s National Executive Committee “overran by several hours.” After two hours, “the meeting broke for tea.” You know things are tense when Britons have to break for tea mid-meeting.

In the end, the committee voted to adopt the definition and all 11 examples, but not before adding its own little addendum: “This does not in any way undermine the freedom of expression on Israel and the rights of Palestinians.” That freedom-of-expression caveat is especially hilarious in Britain, where nothing can quite boost a literary or celebrity career like bashing Israel. Just ask Roger Waters. Or Coldplay. Or Tariq Ali. Or Tilda Swinton…

Still, by the British media’s lights, the final document was an improvement over what Corbyn had in mind. He wanted to add an amendment to the effect that “it should not be considered anti-Semitic to describe Israel, its policies, or the circumstances around its foundation as racist because of their discriminatory impact.” That, of course, would have run afoul of one of the 11 IHRA examples: “Contemporary examples of anti-Semitism … include … claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”

It’s tempting to cheer Corbyn’s procedural defeat here. And no doubt sighs of relief went out from among the dwindling ranks of British Jews who can still bring themselves to vote for Labour. But the more pertinent and astonishing fact is this: Jeremy Corbyn thinks it is not anti-Semitic to view Israel’s founding as racist. He, the leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition, would deny the right to self-determination to none but the Jewish people.

Who seriously imagines that, having adopted the IHRA definition, the Labour party will now cease to reflect Corbyn’s ideological preferences? This is the same Labour, after all, whose supporters fantasize about “rid[ding] the Jews who are cancer on us all,” whose local councilors use epithets such as “Jew boy,” according to a leaked dossier obtained by the LBC radio station and published the same day as the vote on the IHRA definition.

Some may be tempted to think that the anti-anti-Semitic vote in the executive committee means that body can check the Cobynite fanatics. Except, no. The Daily Mail reported:

The candidate who won the most votes for the Labour party’s ruling National Executive Committee celebrated the Iranian revolution when hardline Ayatollahs took over the country, repressing freedom and human rights…

Yasmine Dar, who was elected top with 88,176 votes, has given speeches at an Islamist celebration of the Iranian revolution in Manchester for three years in a row.

In the most recent, in 2017, she said: ‘We are here for a celebration, a happy time. Thirty-years of the Iranian Islamic revolution. So I’m absolutely happy, it’s the third year I’ve been coming.’

The rot seeps from top to bottom. It’s structural. No self-respecting Briton, Jewish or otherwise, should support this party.

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