It's hard to take seriously those who say we should put first and foremost the very real concerns of Jewish people, but then stuff socks into the mouths of anyone who would quite correctly reassure the Jewish community that the scale of antisemitism in Labour has been hugely exaggerated.
First of all, just for clarity, Corbyn said the recommendations of the EHRC report should immediately be implemented.
Second, surely anyone familiar with the evidence knows that what Corbyn did say - that antisemitism in Labour has been exaggerated by people inside and outside the party - is true.
There is a widespread perception of antisemitism being 'rampant', 'rife' on the Left and in Labour, etc. For example...
*In 2018, 68 Rabbis signed a letter saying: 'As British rabbis, it is
with great regret that we find it necessary to write, yet antisemitism
within sections of the Labour party has become so severe and widespread that we must speak out with one Jewish voice.'
*The Jerusalem Post' has claimed that 'Britain’s Labour Party has a major problem with rampant antisemitism.'
*New York Post ran a leader that 'Britain's Left is melting down over rampant antisemitism'
Yet what stats we have suggest that only 00.08% of members have been found guilty of antisemitism. You can no more reasonably conclude that the Left have an 'antisemitism problem' by showing 00.08% are antisemitic than you can show that 'women have a bad driving problem' by showing that 00.08% of women drive badly.
Worse still pretty much all the hard evidence from Jewish Policy Research, The Economist, etc. actually flatly contradicts the claim that there is more antisemitism in Labour/on the left than in the general population:
· Jewish Policy Research - a Jewish think-tank - conducted an extensive
survey looking into anti-semitism, including on the left (2017). They
concluded, and I quote, 'antisemitism is no more prevalent on the left
than in the general population'. That's a Jewish think-tank's conclusion.
· A Cross-Party Home Affairs Select Committee was tasked with looking into levels of anti-semitism in the UK (2017). It concluded, and I quote, '...there exists no reliable, empirical evidence to support the notion that there is a higher prevalence of antisemitic attitudes within the Labour Party than any other political party.'
· In 2015, 2016, and 2017 Campaign Against Anti-Semitism conducted a survey of British attitudes towards Jews. It found supporters of the Labour Party were less likely to hold antisemitic views than those of the Conservative Party or the UK Independence Party (UKIP), while those of the Liberal Democrats were the least likely to hold such views.
· Further analysis by Evolve Politics of the CAAS YouGov data indicated antisemitic attitudes had actually *reduced* in Labour under Corbyn.
· The Chakrabarti inquiry looked into the accusations of significant antisemitism in Labour and found no significant problem.
· In 2016, Channel 4 Dispatches programme did a 6 month undercover investigation of Momentum, looking for dirt, including anti-semitism. They found none at all. After six months of undercover investigation.
· A 2019 study by The Economist showed that in the UK those who are 'very left wing' were significantly less likely to be antisemitic compared to those 'very right wing, or even in the centre. However the study also revealed (as did the JPR study) that there are more critical attitudes towards Israel found on the far left. See image.
Clearly, many are hugely over-estimating the scale of the problem. Yet, despite it being obviously true that the scale of antisemitism in Labour/on the Left is being exaggerated, I can't remember a single instance of someone being challenged by a journalist when they have exaggerated it in an interview, etc.
Third, this exaggeration has caused Jewish people grave fears that Labour is 'rife' with antisemitism that are in reality groundless. This is actually the context of Corbyn's remark, if you read it.
Fourth, this was a day on which, inevitably Corbyn and the left were going to be smeared again and these exaggerations repeated unchallenged yet again.
So my question is, is it right that Corbyn should be suspended for pointing out an obvious fact that we all know to be true on a day when levels of antisemitism were going to be again dramatically exaggerated by his enemies without challenge?
And (tough one for defenders of free speech who also hate Corbyn) is it right that there should be (as Starmer appears to suggest) 'no place in the Labour Party' for anyone who says what is true - that the problem has been exaggerated for factional reasons?
The Left have been accused of being 'rife' with antisemitism and 'Jew hate', even in The Guardian. Yet no fair minded observer looking at the actual evidence could possibly come to that conclusion. It's absurd. And it stokes the very real and deep fears of Jewish people whose concerns really should be at the heart of this issue.
It's hard to take seriously those who say we should put first and foremost the concerns of Jewish people, but then stuff socks into the mouths of anyone who would quite correctly reassure the Jewish community that the scale of antisemitism in Labour has been hugely exaggerated.
Some will reply that yes antisemitism on the left is exaggerated and yes we should be free to say that, but it was politically inept for Corbyn to say it on the day the EHRC report came out.
You can argue that if you like, but 1.: does his saying what's true on that occasion really make him worthy of being kicked out of Labour?
And 2.: Isn't it fair enough to point out, on a day when the left and Corbyn would be smeared yet again as filled with Jew hate, rife with antisemitism, etc. that this is simply not true - not least because whipping up hysteria in that way contributes to unwarranted Jewish fears?
Don't people - even the left - have a right to defend themselves by stating obvious facts on a day when their enemies are spouting toxic falsehoods?
Most of us know that levels of antisemitism on the left have been exaggerated for political reasons. Even if you happen to believe there is more antisemitism on the left than elsewhere (which you shouldn't), there is no reasonable doubt that levels have been seriously exaggerated. But it's increasingly risky to say that out loud. It seems, from what Starmer has said, that it can now get you suspended from Labour. And perhaps worse...
Those leading the charge against 'antisemitism in Labour' are now using threats of litigation to try to stifle academics who dare to point out what's clearly true.
very blogpost would now be deemed 'unlawful harassment of Jews' by David Hirsh.