A blogpost by Robert Cohen

27 March 2018

Yesterday’s demonstration outside Parliament against Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to recognise and deal with alleged antisemitism in the Labour Party has become a textbook study in the complexity of the Israel/Palestine debate. So many political agendas at play that I imagine it’s impossible for the casual observer to unravel it all.

It can’t be understood without acknowledging the right wing of the Labour Party’s desperation to remove Corbyn, still seeing him as an electoral liability. It can’t understand without remembering that we have local elections coming up in the U.K. It can’t be understood without understanding how fragile Brexit makes Theresa May’s Government. It can’t be understood without acknowledging the mainstream media bias against Corbyn too, even from the Guardian.

It can’t be understood without having any empirical data on the scale of antisemitic sentiment among Labour members. Roughly what percentage of Labour’s 500,000 members would have to be proven antisemites to justify the charge of “rampant” and “epidemic” Jewish hatred?

It can’t be understood without understanding that Israel is still considered a well functioning democracy despite its control over the lives of 4 million Palestinians in the West Bank and 2 million in Gaza. It can’t be understood without acknowledging that Zionism is still considered a legitimate expression of Jewish national self-determination despite the past and present catastrophe it has created for another people.

It can’t be understood without acknowledging that anti-Zionists easily slide into antisemitic tropes because Israel presents itself as the nation state of the Jewish people rather than the nation of its citizens. It can’t be understood without acknowledging that the Jewish communal leadership believe they have a responsibility to advocate for a foreign country.

It can’t be understood without acknowledging that there exists a significant number of British Jews who support Corbyn and support Palestinian solidarity. It can’t be understood without acknowledging that Jeremy Corbyn cannot face down his critics on their own blindness to the “rampant” discrimination caused by Israel’s actions without imploding his leadership of the party. So, indeed it’s complicated. All of these things are ‘in play’ and the stakes just got higher.

As I said yesterday morning, the blatant attempt by the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council to topple Corbyn could backfire very badly on them and whole Jewish community.