Rethinking Europe

Prince Charles, UK Jews and Corbyn/Labour’s Anti-Semitism

The Labour anti-Semitism story may spin on. Will some of Corbyn’s Labour Party friends now start to quietly assert that they lost the election because of the Jews?

Credit: Alessandro Grussu www.flickr.com

Takeaways


  • The Labour anti-Semitism story may not have come to an end.
  • Will some of Corbyn’s Labour Party friends now start to quietly assert that they lost the election because of the Jews?
  • There are so few British Jews (approximately 260,000) that their vote made no meaningful difference to the overall election result.
  • There have been dozens of complaints made to Corbyn’s office about anti-Semitism. Corbyn has been reluctant to act forcefully on any of them.

In early December, Prince Charles welcomed a large number of prominent British Jews to a large reception at Buckingham Palace.

Considerable efforts were made to guard against any media attention to the event, which took place one week before the UK election. The secrecy was deemed essential to ensure that the Prince appeared above partisan politics.

The Prince had invited British Jews from all walks of life, but the guests could not bring their mobile phones and press photographers were not admitted. The Prince spoke splendidly about the many ties between the Royal Family and Jews and everyone applauded.

The elephant in the room, the Labour Party‘s many instances of anti-Semitism, was never mentioned. The guests, like most British Jews, who have been horrified and scared by the absolute refusal of Labour’s leadership to firmly address their concerns, were cheered by the Prince’s remarks, which were later released to the press.

Prince praises Britain’s Jews

He emphasized the long history of Jews in the UK and their many contributions to the nation in the arts, politics and commerce.

He pointed out that his grand-mother, Princess Alice, had saved and hidden a Jewish family in Athens during Nazi occupation and that she was buried on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives.

“Nasty Party”

In the early hours of Friday, December 13, when Labour MP Ruth Smeeth learned that she had been defeated in the election she spoke bluntly about leader Jeremy Corbyn. She had been one of four female Jewish Labour MPs – now there is just one.

Smeeth told the BBC, “Jeremy Corbyn’s actions on antisemitism have made us the nasty party. We are the racist party.”

Of course, there are so few British Jews (approximately 260,000) that their vote made no meaningful difference to the overall election result. Many Jews who traditionally voted Labour are believed to have stayed home, or even voted Conservative.

Refusal to apologize

It was not just that Corbyn and some of his associates have long been forceful critics of Israel and staunch supporters of the Palestinians. There have been dozens of complaints made to Corbyn’s office about specific incidents of anti-Semitism at a considerable number of local Labour Party meetings across England.

According to Smeeth and others, Corbyn has been reluctant to act forcefully on any of them.

The issue went front and center during the election campaign when Corbyn was interviewed on the BBC by hard-hitting reporter Andrew Neil one week before the election. He asked Corbyn four times to discuss the issue and the Labour leader was continuously evasive.

Corbyn’s refusal to take responsibility and apologize to Jews in the interview was the front-page headline in most of the UK’s newspapers. No longer was this just an issue of concern to Jews. It had escalated into a major issue of Corbyn’s character and of the Labour Party’s seeming tolerance for racism.

This may very well have contributed to some extent to Labour’s defeat.

No wonder that no sooner had the election results become conclusive than top Conservative Party leaders, such as Michael Gove and Sajid Javid, swiftly addressed the issue.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Javid told BBC Radio: “There will be Jewish citizens waking up today for the first time able to feel safe in our country, the first time since Jeremy Corbyn became leader of the Labour Party.”

Bigotry rejected

Prince Charles’s event was arranged in part by the British Board of Deputies, which represents many Jewish organizations.

Its president, Marie van der Zyl, noted after the election that “anti-Jewish racism has been allowed to run amok and some at the highest levels of the party have appeared to collude to protect anti-Semites”. She added, “’The overwhelming reaction of our members to this election result is one of relief.”

British television celebrity Rachel Riley, who has long been a very visible public critic of Labour’s failure to act against anti-Semitism, commented on the outcome of the election: “To actually see that the general public, Britain, rejects terrorist supporters, it rejects anti-Semitism, it rejects bigotry. It’s all the things that, as a Brit, I’m proud of my country for.”

Will Jews be blamed?

The Labour anti-Semitism story, however, may not have come to an end. Will some of Corbyn’s Labour Party friends now start to quietly assert that they lost the election because of the Jews?

It seems preposterous. Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone, who was forced to resign from the Labour Party some time ago for anti-Semitic comments, but remains a close friend of Corbyn, was prominently quoted in the Daily Mail recently as noting that “The Jewish vote wasn’t very helpful.”

Tags: , , , , ,

About Frank Vogl

Frank Vogl is co-founder of Transparency International and author of Waging War on Corruption: Inside the Movement Fighting the Abuse of Power. [Washington D.C., United States]

Responses to “Prince Charles, UK Jews and Corbyn/Labour’s Anti-Semitism”

If you would like to comment, please visit our Facebook page.