JVL Introduction

Richard Silverstein on the Mondoweiss blog responds to what he calls Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’s  “own personal crusade to destroy the political career of Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn” – with false accusations of antisemitism and demands that he “recant and repent”.

Silverstein points out that: ‘“repentance” serves as a dog whistle of sorts for UK Jews.  It will resonate with them spiritually and transform what should be a political debate into a religious one.  I’ve long argued here that the mixture of politics and religion is more than toxic–it’s lethal…’

This is, he argues, “an entirely manufactured crisis”.

Rabbi Sacks Anti-Corbyn “Crusade”

During the Middle Ages, Christian forces heading to the Holy Land dallied on their travels long enough to decimate many Jewish communities in what is now Germany, including Mainz, Speyer, and other major towns.  Tens of thousands were murdered, incinerated in their homes, stabbed to death in the streets, by these holy warriors seeking to wrest the land of Israel from the Mohammedan heathen.

Now, former UK chief rabbi Jonathan Sacks has launched his own personal crusade to destroy the political career of Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn.  He has falsely accused him of anti-Semitism and demanded that he “recant and repent” his offending statements.  More than a political debate, such demands remind me of the Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution who tormented ‘capitalist roaders’ and bourgeois intellectuals into similar recantations and “re-education.”  Today, another Jewish Labour leader of the so-called progressive group, Momentum, said that Corbyn should take anti-Semitism “retraining.”

Since we’re entering the period of the Days of Awe, Sacks’ echoing of such religious rhetoric in using the term “repentance” serves as a dog whistle of sorts for UK Jews.  It will resonate with them spiritually and transform what should be a political debate into a religious one.  I’ve long argued here that the mixture of politics and religion is more than toxic–it’s lethal (certainly in Israel and elsewhere).

Earlier, Sacks went even farther and compared Corbyn’s alleged anti-Jewish statements to a historic UK racist bogeyman, Enoch Powell.  The latter’s most infamous statement predicted that the streets of Britain would stream with “rivers of blood.” The blood of white Britons spilled by the masses of African and Asian immigrants then perceived to be “flooding” the country.  Linking Corbyn with Powell is of course outrageous, but it’s a clever gimmick since it will automatically yoke the progressive, anti-racist political leader with an earlier infamous British race-baiter.  The confusion such a claim will induce serves to completely eliminate Corbyn’s actual program and record in the minds of those finding Sacks’ words appealing.

If you read Powell’s speech, it’s quite interesting that he suggests an exodus of white Britons from the island fleeing the plague of bloodshed and violence brought there by these millions of uncouth immigrants:

In the speech Powell recounted a conversation with one of his constituents, a middle-aged working man, a few weeks earlier. Powell said that the man told him: “If I had the money to go, I wouldn’t stay in this country… I have three children, all of them been through grammar school and two of them married now, with family. I shan’t be satisfied till I have seen them all settled overseas.” The man finished by saying to Powell: “In this country in 15 or 20 years’ time the black man will have the whip hand over the white man.”

Sacks too, perhaps unconsciously, echoes this rhetoric in a new charge that British Jews, fearing for their safety after hearing rhetoric like Corbyn’s, will themselves make a mass exodus from their homeland.

The notion is simply preposterous.  Just as there was a prediction of a mass exodus (which never occurred) after a real French crisis in which several Jewish communal institutions were targeted by Islamist terrorists; so too Sacks predicts the same for England, which faces an entirely manufactured crisis.  In truth, the vast majority of British Jews are fine and not afraid for their lives.  No thanks to the mass hysteria ginned up by the Israel Lobby (Board of Deputies, Community Security Trust, BICOM, etc. ) and its minions (Sacks, et al).

In another echo of faux Israeli doomsday rhetoric concerning Iran, Sacks calls Corbyn an “existential threat.”  Corbyn is even less of a threat to British Jews than Iran is to Israel.

There are 250,000 Jews in England.  They constitute a small percentage of the overall population.  Rabbi Sacks, despite his reputation as a distinguished spiritual and ethical leader, still speaks to a tiny portion of the British electorate.  He doesn’t even speak to the majority of Jews, since they mostly aren’t Orthodox, as he is.  While true that Sacks may have admirers and followers outside the Jewish community, they are largely Tories, as I’m certain is Sacks himself.

So frankly, I can’t see the point of this entire smear campaign.  Jeremy Corbyn has twice been elected Party leader despite fierce opposition.  If there was another such election he would likely be elected again.  So what do people like Sacks gain by this?

In fact, I believe it stirs up as much hostility toward the Jewish community as it invokes sympathy.  There are 600,000 Labour Party members.  They voted massively to elect Corbyn leader.  Now, the UK Israel Lobby seeks to steal their choice from them. If alarmists like Sacks succeed, a substantial portion of those members will resent this sabotage effort.  Not to mention blaming the Israeli government for its role in this fiasco, which has yet to be exposed publicly (though there is clear circumstantial evidence of its involvement).

Finally, progressives have discovered a 2017 Haaretz article in which a British Jew admonishes Sacks for producing a video promoting a UK Orthodox Jewish mission to Israel.  The video is itself a paean to Jerusalem and specifically mentions Jerusalem Day.  The sponsors of the trip mentioned prominently that participants would participate in the infamous march through Jerusalem’s Old City, in which rabid settler’s scream genocidal slogans against the local inhabitants.  Members of the Mizrahi trip would have participated in this March and Rabbi Sacks had to have known this when he produced his video.  Nevertheless, he never said a word concerning the March, never criticized it, never suggested that members steer clear of it.  In essence, he was an indirect promoter of Jewish hatred and incitement against Palestinians.

Not to mention that in the video I feature above, he speaks of the joyful sounds of children playing in the streets of the holy city.  But there is no mention of the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who also live in this city (except a brief reference to “two mosques” there).  He doesn’t hear the cries of the old men and women evicted by settlers from their homes of generations.

They too must share it with the Jews Sacks champions.  But there isn’t a word of them. It’s as if he’s magically disappeared them.

Further, he talks about “rebuilding the ruins” of Jerusalem.  This is an oblique reference to the rebuilding of the Temple which, as an Orthodox Jew, he prays for daily.  Sacks too must know that this effort must lead to religious holy war as it would require the destruction of the third holiest site in Islam, the Haram al Sharif.  Again, not a word about this “problem.”

In his utter naiveté, he calls Jerusalem a “city of peace” (it’s Hebrew name conjures this phrase) without mentioning the thousands of dead and injured, both Jewish and Palestinian, who’ve died there.  He doesn’t mention the efforts to Judaize the city by physically expelling and evicting long-time residents from their homes there.

He continues by falsely claiming that “three faiths pray together in freedom and in peace” thanks to “Israel rule.”  In truth, one faith prays enjoying such freedom.  Muslims however do not.  They are regularly restricted or even prohibited from praying at the Dome of the Rock.  In fact, a year ago there were mass riots over the installation of intrusive Israeli spy equipment which would’ve monitored all Muslim worshippers.

In other words, Rabbi Sacks has some repenting of his own to do if he truly examines his own actions.  He appears exquisitely sensitive to perceived Jewish suffering, while absolutely insensate in the face of non-Jewish suffering.  Sacks is a hypocrite and ought to do a spiritual accounting of his own before hurling accusations at others.