Letters to the Jewish Chronicle


JVL wrote a letter to the JC about the defamatory and unsubstantiated piece by Miriam Shaviv Corbyn should not have been asked to light the Chanukiah in last week’s Jewish Chronicle. They didn’t publish it nor one by Anthony Isaacs who wrote in his own name and subsequently copied it to us. Nor one by David Rosenberg, which has just come in…

All three are reproduced below, And, since they are responses to Shaviv’s article, that too is reproduced here, below the two letters.


This post is an expanded version of an earlier one, published here yesterday, which it  replaces – now updated with David Rosenberg’s letter as well.


Letters to the Editor

1. From JVL

If Miriam Shaviv who wrote the diatribe against Jeremy Corbyn (“Corbyn should not be asked to light the Chanukiah”, JC, 22 December 2017) had made one click on Google, she would have known – as everyone in Islington knows – that Jeremy has always attended Jewish events across the constituency, public and private, Chabad, Progressive and everything in between. Similarly, the rabbi has attended broad-based community events for many years. Several of the many unfounded claims in this article were defamatory, and many more seemed designed to foment division and hatred. It is extraordinary that the editor did not notice the contradiction between the smear perpetrated by Miriam Shaviv and the positive image of Jeremy Corbyn lighting the Chanukah lights on Page 16 of the same paper.

Jenny Manson and Richard Kuper
Jewish Voice for Labour

2. From Dr Anthony Isaacs

Letter for publication in the JC

It would take a heart of stone not to be wryly amused by the JC’s obsession with Jeremy Corbyn (over 300 references in 2017 alone, significantly exceeding Theresa May or even Benjamin Netanyahu), but Miriam Shaviv’s article (22 December) is almost beyond satire. In a piece devoid of any facts, other than Corbyn having accepted an invitation to light Islington Chabad’s Chanukiah, she produces a string of unsubstantiated smears against the Labour leader, coupled with an attack on the organisation which had the temerity to invite him. Not only are they castigated as that much to be feared entity, an “independent voice”, but as complicit in turning us all into “useful idiots”, who do not realise that Corbyn is “slowly but surely threatening Jewish life in this country” and if given half a chance, would no doubt abolish Chanukah altogether. What is particularly dangerous about this McCarthyite form of journalism is the false projection of a community speaking as one in rejecting engagement with an important strand of mainstream political opinion. Shaviv must know that there are many “independent voices” in the community who are passionately concerned, as is Jeremy Corbyn, by the effects on both individuals and the cohesion of our society of austerity, rapidly increasing homelessness, child poverty and underfunding of public services, which affect us all. It would be a good start to 2018 if the JC resolved to take these up as “Jewish” issues with no less tenacity than it does the constant pursuit of antisemitism.

Dr Anthony Isaacs

3. From David Rosenberg

Dear Letters Editor

From her abusive comments about Jeremy Corbyn taking part in a public Menorah-lighting ceremony(JC 22.12.17), I’m guessing that your columnist Miriam Shaviv doesn’t live in Islington North, so was not among the 40,000+ constituents who voted for Corbyn at the last General Election (up nearly 11,000 from 2015).

I, and many Jews I know locally, were among them.

We know that since Corbyn was first elected here in 1983 he has built excellent relationships with Jewish constituents and organisations, as he has done with other local minority communities, and he has played an exemplary role in encouraging those communities to support each other locally. To his credit, Rabbi Korer has been part of these processes too.

If the charges that Miriam Shaviv casually throws at Corbyn had any credibility, I would have to assume that my neighbourhood is swarming with antisemites or people prepared to tolerate antisemitism. That is clearly nonsense.

There is no doubt, though, that Jews, Muslims, and Roma in Europe are living in dangerous times with the rise of far right politicians and parties in Austria, the Czech Republic, France, Hungary and Poland. I am proud that my local MP also speaks out, most recently in Brussels, against those espousing a populist politics of hatred and division across Europe.

If Miriam Shaviv is genuinely concerned about that too, then she might want to examine why Israel’s current leaders are cosying up to the very parties and governments that are endangering minority communities in Europe.

Yours sincerely
David Rosenberg

Corbyn should not have been asked to light the Chanukiah

Miriam Shaviv, Jewish Chronicle
22nd December 2017

Miriam Shaviv argues that the Labour leader should not be invited at all to Jewish community events.


Every politician pays tribute to the Jewish community during Chanukah. It’s an easy way to score political points.

Theresa May puts a Chanukiah in the window of 10 Downing Street and sends us a hearty official message. Donald Trump hosts a Chanukah party featuring his three Jewish grandchildren. And Jeremy Corbyn addresses the 250-strong crowd at Islington Chabad’s lighting-up ceremony.

Lovely gestures, all. But Jeremy Corbyn should not be allowed to make his. He should not be invited at all to Jewish community events, which give him a cover of respectability he does not deserve.

True, Trump is no friend to the Jews — he cares only about himself. But Corbyn has proven again and again that he is a clear and present danger. At very best, he is an enabler of antisemitism in his party, and at worst a fellow traveller to Jew-haters in Labour and a “friend” to terror groups seeking to physically harm Jews.

The result is to undermine the security of Jews in this country. Last week, the JC front page lamented the “steady stream of stories of blatant and unashamed antisemitism” that have now become mainstream in today’s Britain.

Many Jews feel that this new norm — so unthinkable a few short years ago — is directly related to the tone set by the leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition. By turning a blind eye to antisemitic comments coming from within his party again and again, Corbyn has turned antisemitism into legitimate public discourse.

Turning up to Chanukah parties and posing for selfies with the participants even as he accomplishes all of the above is the very definition of chutzpah. Yet the man himself doesn’t believe he is an antisemite — apparently because of his anti-racist credentials he can’t be one — so let’s set aside for a moment his motivations.

Why was he invited?

According to Rabbi Mendy Korer of Chabad of Islington, Corbyn, his local MP, “gets involved in other events to learn how he can assist the needs of the local community. I have a positive relationship with him.”

Perhaps this is just the naivety of a young local rabbi. Or perhaps it is quite the opposite, a form of power play.

Chabad has an unfortunate reputation, internationally, for being willing to cosy up to unsavoury and unpleasant people in power when they believe it is in their interests. Witness Chabad’s close relationship with the authoritarian Vladimir Putin.

In addition, Chabad likes to present itself as an independent voice within the Jewish community, which operates outside the established communal bodies and organisations and is an alternative address.

Either way, it should not happen.

Each time Corbyn gets his photo op with a Jewish audience he gets to pretend that his clash with the Jewish community is nothing more than a polite disagreement.

He gets cover to claim that his party does not really have a problem with antisemitism — look, I light Chanukah candles! We’re all friends! Even more so when he gets a picture with photogenic rabbis in big black hats, who too many people imagine are the “authentic” representatives of the community.

And he gets to position himself as a regular, mainstream politician, instead of a figure of the far-left who is slowly but surely threatening Jewish life in this country.

There are, of course, some Jewish organisations that have a legitimate reason to continue interacting and engaging with Jeremy Corbyn.

The Jewish Labour Movement, which hosted Corbyn at its own Chanukah reception, is affiliated to the Labour Party, while the Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council are the community’s official representatives, responsible for dialogue with Government and Opposition. They interact with the Labour Party on a political basis.

The rest of the community should steer clear and decline to offer Jeremy Corbyn any hospitality.

The Chabad movement may often be highly political but, nevertheless, it is a religious organisation, which has no place helping to whitewash Corbyn’s antisemitism problem.

Rabbi Korer should have known better but instead he played Corbyn’s useful idiot. And he turned the rest of the community into useful idiots, too.