There is no doubt that the Labour party has an antisemitism problem. But the figures (see below) suggest it involves a tiny minority. Claims that the party is “riddled with antisemitism” are a deliberate lie. What makes antisemitism claims against Labour powerful is that they are associated with Jeremy Corbyn. In particular many have suggested that Corbyn himself is antisemitic. And if you present the evidence is a certain way the claim looks like a strong one.
I am no Corbyn fan, and actively campaigned against him in 2016. My problem with him was not antisemitism, but Brexit, and my fears came to pass this summer. But I could see immediately that there was something odd about the evidence produced to suggest Corbyn was antisemitic. With a couple of exceptions, they all related to his championing of the Palestinian cause. And with possibly one exception, none of them involved him actually making any antisemitic statements.
As the volume of attacks against Labour and Corbyn himself increased, I thought I should look at some of this evidence against him more carefully. I also had some very personal reasons for wanting to find the truth. It is a long post I’m afraid, but if you want to do justice to the issue it has to be.
Evidence against Corbyn
I will restrict myself here to four of the most common pieces of evidence quoted.
Saying Zionists don’t understand English irony, despite “having lived in this country for a very long time, probably all their lives”.
This is the only example I can find of Corbyn making an allegedly antisemitic statement. “When he implies that, however long they have lived here, Jews are not fully British, he is using the language of classic pre-war European anti-Semitism” said a former Chief Rabbi, But, as with so many of these claims, the context is rarely given.
Corbyn was commenting after the Palestinian ambassador to the U.K., who was born and raised in Jerusalem, had made an ironic statement. Corbyn made the observation that when the ambassador had made the same comment in his address to parliament, some Zionists in the audience “berated” the ambassador for what he said.