Responses to Jonathan Arkush’s rant yesterday morning abour Jeremy Corbyn and antisemitism flow in. We reprint three: Ben Chacko’s report in the Morning Star on peace campaigners’ responses; Rhea Wolfson, a Jewish member of Labour’s NEC member, writing in the Jewish Chronicle; and David Rosenberg, posted yesterday on the JVL Facebook page

See the earlier report From the horse’s mouth

Jonathan Arkush

Peace campaigners reject Arkush’s latest anti-semitism smears

Ben Chacko, Morning Star
31 May 2018

Mr Arkush told the Daily Telegraph that Mr Corbyn’s “associations” with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and the Stop the War Coalition were evidence of anti-semitism, even accusing the PSC of having an anti-semitic logo which “has no room for Israel.”

The PSC logo consists of a circle comprised of two curved arrows in the colours of the Palestinian flag, though Mr Arkush might have been referring to an older logo depicting historic Palestine as it existed before the establishment of Israel in 1948, which saw 700,000 Palestinians driven from their homes.

A spokesman for the Labour leader rejected the “unfounded and outrageous personal attack” by Mr Arkush, who said that sharing an unspecified “prevalent discourse about Israel” was “unquestionably anti-semitic” and claimed that Mr Corbyn had remained silent when asked why he never said anything nice about Israel.

Stop the War Coalition vice-chair Chris Nineham told the Morning Star that the campaign “totally denies” Mr Arkush’s insinuation that it is anti-semitic.

“To say attacking the Israeli government’s aggression against Palestine is anti-semitic is like saying criticising Donald Trump is anti-American,” he said.

David Rosenberg of the Jewish Socialist Group said: “Not content with describing the Labour Party’s most anti-racist leader in its history as an anti-semite, Jonathan Arkush tries to pin that label on the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

“The Jewish Socialist Group has always been proud to work with PSC to end the occupation and enable Palestinians to live in freedom.

“Arkush, a strong supporter of both Trump and [Israeli PM Benjamin] Netanyahu does a disservice to the struggle against real anti-semitism with these ridiculous and defamatory charges.”

In a statement, the PSC said: “Jonathan Arkush’s comments in his interview with the Daily Telegraph that conflate criticism of Israel with anti-semitism are deeply concerning.

“This conflation undermines both the cause of justice for the Palestinian people and the fight against anti-semitism in which all should be engaged.”

The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign today welcomed Lord Bracadale’s report on hate crime legislation which concluded that “hate crime legislation should not extend to political entities” (such as states or governments).

Jeremy Corbyn is not antisemitic, he’s one of the most principled people in politics

Rhea Wolfson, a Jewish member of Labour’s governing body, dismisses Jonathan Arkush’s attack on the Labour leader

Jewish Chronicle, 1 June 2018

* * * * * * * * *

Jonathan Arkush has never spoken for me, nor for many other young, progressive Jews. He certainly does not speak for me today. I’ve had the honour of working closely with Jeremy Corbyn, one of the most principled people in politics.

As a former member of the Jewish Leadership Council Board, I can’t be dismissed as as someone on the fringes of the Jewish community, as many of my friends and comrades have.

Arkush’s claims are entirely without foundation. The evidence he cites? Jeremy’s criticisms of the actions of the Israeli government.

Criticising the actions of the Israeli government is not antisemitic. As a Jewish person who is critical of some Israeli government policies, I find this suggestion deeply offensive. Many of us are aware that there is a political discourse that surrounds Israel and the Occupation that is toxic and sometimes crosses the line into antisemitism.

However, to dismiss campaign groups as a whole shows a lack of intention of actually challenging and changing this behaviour.

Many Jews who are trying to work towards a better discourse and a more effective movement are branded as self-hating and traitorous. We saw this recently when Mr Arkush accused Jewdas, a Jewish group, of antisemitism.

Criticising the Israeli government’s actions does not mean you are denying Israel’s right to exist. Jeremy has been clear that he is committed to working towards a just and viable settlement of the conflict, with a secure Israel alongside a secure and viable state of Palestine, as set out in Labour’s manifesto.

Mr Arkush’s conflation of antisemitism with criticisms of the Israeli government undermines the fight against antisemitism and distracts us from challenging this evil in our society.

But this isn’t to say that antisemitism doesn’t exist within the Labour Party. It does and Jeremy made his commitment to eliminating it absolutely clear.

A working group has been reviewing party procedures to identify how they can be made more efficient and robust. Our new General Secretary Jennie Formby reported on our work at the last National Executive Committee meeting, which was received positively. I look forward to bringing our final recommendations.

When I have faced antisemitism, whether within or outside of our movement, Jeremy has been an ally, Jennie has been an ally, as have many other Labour comrades.

Jeremy outlined in his Evening Standard article how antisemitic tropes have been promoted by some on the left within, even though these views violate our principles and undermine our struggle for a just society.

Antisemitism exists on the left, as it exists in society but this does not mean antisemitism is more of a problem on the left.

As the Community Security Trust’s report on antisemitic incidents in 2017 makes clear, antisemitism is extremely prevalent on the far right.

The personal attacks made by Mr Arkush are not only entirely untrue, they are also deeply counterproductive to this process.

If Jonathan Arkush wants to see antisemitism eliminated, he should be working with us to achieve that, instead of making outrageous personal attacks.

The conversation in our community has been toxic in the past few weeks. Many left wing Jews have grown up struggling to find our place in the community. We’ve found places in youth groups or other organisations or built our own communities, but now that fight is feeling insurmountable. Recently I’ve seen my friends cast out, subjected to daily abuse and even told they just aren’t Jewish.

This level of vitriol doesn’t allow for well-meaning or constructive conversation; without which we stand no chance of truly eradicating the evil of antisemitism in our society.

Anyone who knows, has met, or worked with Jeremy Corbyn, as I have, knows that he does not have a prejudicial bone in his body, and is utterly committed to tackling antisemitism, as he is all forms of discrimination and oppression, which he has fought against all his life.

My commitment to Labour is unwavering and I am proud of the work that Jeremy is doing to tackle antisemitism in politics and wider society.

David Rosenberg, Facebook post, 31 May 2018

Jonathan Arkush, the outgoing president of the Board of Deputies, is a very unhappy man. He was unpopular even among the Board of Deputies in his short tenure there, not least when he ran panting to try to to be one of the first to congratulate the white supremacist, mysogynist, homophobe Donald Trump on being elected president of the USA on behalf of the Jewish community. His fellow deputies forced him to climb down from that statement.

He made it a mission to weaken Jewish support for Labour by trying to get the community to pin the label “antisemite” on the party and its leadership, and humiliate Jeremy Corbyn into resigning, preferably before the local elections. The charade at Parliament Square – a lash-up between Tories and Blairites with a gruesome supporting cast including Norman Tebbit and Ian Paisley Jr – was meant to be the weapon that forced the issue. He failed, so now he has gone full pelt into outrageously calling Jeremy Corbyn an antisemite.

Excellent combative response from Corbyn’s spokesperson to this personal attack.

My advice to Arkush? Don’t wait. Show you can lead by personal example and leave now. One more Tory/Trump/Netanyhau-supporter really won’t be missed. But where should he go? Given his views he would obviously be happiest if he settled in a racist right wing society where the Labour Party is weak. There is one country on the tip of my tongue, but I can’t remember what it’s called.