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DESPITE the headlines, the recent intervention of Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis on the issue of alleged anti-semitism within Labour was not an “unprecedented” intervention from the leadership of the Jewish community in the four-year history of anti-semitism smears directed at the party.
The intervention was small-fry in comparison to the demonstrations of hundreds of British Jews led by the Board of Deputies and Jewish leadership council in March 2018, the joint front cover across three national Jewish newspapers accusing Labour of anti-semitism in July 2018, the letter signed by 68 rabbis accusing Labour of anti-semitism in the same month, or the accusations levelled by the far-right extremist Rabbi Jonathan Sacks in August 2018.
Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis’s letter, describing Jeremy Corbyn as “unfit for office” and urging the electorate to “vote with their conscience” is just the end of a long line of overtly political attacks on the Labour Party from Jewish community leaders.
They are, in effect, playing a dangerous game of chicken with the electorate; explicitly asking them to place their faith in the word of official institutions purporting to represent the Jewish community over and above their hopes for a better country for themselves, their families and their children.
As the statistics show, accusations of anti-semitism levelled at Labour members account for less than 0.01 per cent of the Labour Party membership. Every investigation into the issue from the Royall report, the Home Office select committee investigation and the Chakrabarti report have concluded that there is no evidence to suggest a higher prevalence of anti-semitism in Labour than any other party.
On polling, the Tory Party has a significantly higher prevalence of anti-semitic sentiments than Labour, and those attitudes in Labour are below those found in the British population at large.
The lack of substance and evidence behind the constant smears is increasingly evident, and fewer and fewer people are inclined to take the word of official institutions which are acting in such a nakedly political manner. Meanwhile, real threats to the Jewish community go unnoticed.
Only a weeks ago, Jewish actor and comedian Marlon Solomon reported via twitter that he had been engaged by two men in a takeaway in Manchester, demanding to know if he was “a f****ing Jew” and sieg heiling before leaving the shop. This is the real threat of anti-semitism in modern Britain — yet in a sign of the times, he was unable to convince several of his Twitter followers that these were not thuggish Corbynites, but hard-right Tommy Robinson supporters.
The recklessness with which community leaders like Mirvis are exploiting fears of anti-semitism is unforgivable. As a genuine far-right threat to Jewish people rears its head internationally, Mirvis and many of the official institutions of British Jewry have opted to expend their efforts on a crusade to prevent Labour forming a government.
In the face of this, if the British people give Labour a decent vote in the general election then Mirvis, the Board of Deputies, the JLC and the Jewish community press will have not a fig-leaf left to hide them. Their credibility will be spent and their institutional voice ever more isolated having spent four years attacking one of the few forces in British society which will stand beside them as the far right continues to grow.
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