YOU would hardly know it in Australia, but for the last month Britain has been transfixed by the renewed row over Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to address rampant anti-Jewish bigotry in his party.
Corbyn’s executive proposed to water down the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) widely accepted definition of anti-Semitism.
Worse, since then, images of him have appeared in Tunisia laying a wreath in a cemetery near the graves of terrorists who perpetrated the massacre of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics.
• Refused to attend two regular weekly meetings of the Parliamentary Labour Party in the House of Commons where his critics were to adopt the full IHRA definition of anti-Semitism;
• Refused to front a media conference to answer questions on anti-Jewish racism, although he rolled his eyes;
• Refused to meet with the leadership of the UK Jewish community over the anti-Semitism definition.
In Britain, Corbyn’s anti-Jewish leaning is not a boutique issue. It is on the front page of every newspaper and in the lead item of many TV news bulletins.
With the Tories tearing each other apart over Brexit, UK Labour should be 20 points ahead in the opinion polls. Instead, one poll shows Corbyn four points behind Theresa May.
Israel may be unnaturally unpopular in the UK, but the British public are confounded by the far left/Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to resolve this anti-Semitism row. Most UK political observers say Corbyn’s failure to address this Jewish issue is the reason the British public has marked him down.
And it gets worse. Deputy Labour party leader Tom Watson has said his party will “disappear into a vortex of eternal shame” unless it resolves the definition issue and takes action over anti-Semitism in the party.
He has demanded that his ‘leader’ Corbyn:
• Adopt without equivocation the internationally accepted IHRA definition of anti-Semitism;
• Drop the charges against the two MPs who had the temerity to criticise Corbyn publicly over the issue (charges against one, Dame Margaret Hodge, have been dropped in the meantime);
• Ruthlessly apply the full weight of the IHRA definition and expel hundreds of far-left activists who have attached themselves to UK Labour and who rabbit on about ‘Rothschild’s Banks’, the ‘Zionists controlling the media’ and compare Israel to the Nazis.
Fortunately there is a great deal of pushback to Corbyn’s stance. The Guardian and the BBC, although trenchant critics of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, have, like the rest of the British media, been outraged at Corbyn’s uncivilised behaviour.
No wonder the British Home Secretary Sajid Javid has called for Corbyn to resign. Criticism has also come from former Labour PM Gordon Brown, who says Corbyn must modify Labour’s stance and agree to the full definition of anti-Semitism.
While Corbyn’s far-left army of trolls has responded violently on social media to this exposure of their man, three major British trade unions (who hold two-thirds of the delegates at the British Labour Conference) have repudiated Corbyn. They insist that he and his office adopt the full IHRA definition of anti-Semitism.
But no, Seumas Milne, Corbyn’s sinister Svengali, has said that he will “die on a hill” rather than let his leader moderate and agree to the IHRA definition.
It is heartening to see the British Jewish community standing as one, standing up to the extremists who run Corbyn’s office.
UK Jewry, once accused by Isi Leibler of being “trembling Israelites”, have coined a slogan to respond to Corbyn and co – “Enough is Enough”.
With Parliament set to meet in September, the British Board of Deputies is upping the ante with a demonstration of solidarity in Manchester on September 14 to demand Corbyn acts firmly against the prejudice in his party.
I believe the majority of decent Labour MPs will revolt against Corbyn and co. It is a common cliché that remains true as ever that “Jews are the canary in the coalmine” of the political mental health of any society. For what Corbyn portends for UK Jewry he portends for Britain generally, if God forbid he was to be elected prime minister.
Robert Shrimsley’s insight in his column in the London Financial Times explains: “The row offers a broader lesson about the nature of Mr Corbyn’s party. After all, you have to admire the excruciating purity of the leader and his acolytes. Here we have a government imploding over Brexit. An early election is at least possible. And what does Mr Corbyn do? He embarks on a fresh dispute about anti-Semitism … His party is in touching distance of power, yet he is ready to risk it all for the purity of his ideals … Mr Corbyn’s views should be taken literally. Voters should take at his word a man whose world view is underpinned by anti-Americanism, who wants to scrap the nuclear deterrent and leave NATO. They should assume that invaluable US intelligence-sharing arrangements will be scrapped. Those hoping that political or financial realities will temper Mr Corbyn’s actions should look at the extent he is prepared to damage his party over the definition of anti-Semitism and recognise that what you see is likely to be what you get.”
MICHAEL DANBY is the Federal Member for Melbourne Ports and served as the long standing chair of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade.