by Abraham Cooper and Harold Brackman*
Commentator Van Jones teared up before the cameras as he criticized President Trump’s response to Charlottesville. Citing the pain it caused his Jewish godmother whose relatives perished in the Holocaust, he made one profound point: “This is not funny, this is not cute, it's not a sound-bite war. At a certain point, you have a lot of people . . . not just the people you're emboldening, but the people you're abandoning, who now don't know if they have a government that gives a damn about them.”
There is no debating that the US is reeling from the intrusion of hate mongers into the mainstream of our body politic.
And there is no debating that in England, a foundational cornerstone of UK’s democracy has, in fact, emboldened bad players and abandoned a targeted minority: There, the British Labour Party has been taken over by a virulently anti-Israel leadership whose “anti-Zionism” often crosses over into outright anti-Semitism.
To cite but a few examples:
At the popular Edinburgh Festival Fringe, American-born, UK political activist Jackie Walker recently appeared in her one-woman show— “Lynching”—portraying her as martyr of a Zionist-orchestrated conspiracy. Truth is that Walker is the victimizer- not the victim. When face by a torrent of Jewish protests, she “apologized” rather than explicitly retracting her screed—stolen from Louis Farrakhan—that “many Jews were the chief financiers of the slave trade.” In fact, Jewish merchants a miniscule percentage of those involved.
Jackie Walker is the former vice-chair of Corbyn’s grassroots political army, Momentum. She was suspended but reinstated after anti-Jewish Facebook postings including: “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Holocaust Remembrance Day was open to all people who’ve experienced holocaust?” At a Labour training session on how to confront anti-Semitism and engage Jewish voters, Walker mused, “A bit concerned . . . at your suggestions that the Jewish community is under such threat that they have to use security in all its buildings,” and declared that anti-Semitism “has nothing to do” with opposing “racist” Israel.
Walker was fervently supported by former London Mayor Ken Livingston, himself belatedly expelled from the Labour Party for suggesting that Hitler was “a staunch Zionist.” Previously, Mayor Livingstone rolled out the red carpet for Yousef Qaradawi, the anti-gay and anti-Semitic cleric who theologically validated suicide bombers.
June’s British parliamentary campaign atmosphere was not only permeated by anxieties over terrorist attacks but also rife with anti-Semitism. At the Bear Pit, a popular venue in Bristol, a giant campaign banner attacking PM Theresa May depicted her with Star of David-shaped earrings. One Jewish Bristol citizen lamented, “I can’t believe stuff I haven’t heard of, or seen since I was a child is now happening again. It makes me sick.”
At a campaign rally, Corbyn joined in a chorus of the Red Flag Communist anthem with his supporters, some of whom said that Israel is responsible for ISIS, openly admitted to “hating” Israel, and ranted about the “ugly Israeli species.” His appointing two virulently anti-Israel MPs, Kate Osamor and Sarah Champion, to lead Labour’s supposed effort to repair relations with the Jewish community.
Alex Goldberg, the Jewish Chaplain at the University of Surrey and a police chaplain, said he was proud of his daughter, Hannah, but was “less proud of the police service that I have worked with for over two decades in failing to respond to three girls [including his daughter] being attacked and racially abused” at a London-area park. Identifiable as religious Jews by their long skirts, the girls were attacked by teens playing basketball.
In Manchester, still reeling from the concert massacre that claimed 22 lives, police reported arson attacks on two kosher restaurants shortly after the terrorist outrage.
Author and expert on global Anti-Semitism, Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, says Corbyn “can best be described as a legitimizer of terrorists and anti-Semites.” Corbyn invited representatives of Hezbollah and Hamas to the British parliament, calling them “my friends.” Corbyn supported Deir Yassin Remembered (DYR), founded by a Holocaust Denier. One close Corbyn adviser supports Hamas and Hezbollah. Another asked why British taxpayers should pay for security at synagogues, insisting Israel’s actions in Gaza are the source of rising UK anti-Semitism.
Gideon Falter, Chairman of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, charged that “nobody is doing more . . . to normalize anti-Semitism in Britain today” than Jeremy Corbyn. An internal Labour Party inquiry—i.e., whitewash—concluded that Labour “is not overrun by anti-Semitism but there is an ‘occasionally toxic atmosphere’.”
Yet despite it all, Corbyn emerged from parliamentary elections stronger than ever.
No one should be surprised then by a new poll released in the UK that reports one of three British Jews are considering leaving the country and that 40%(!) hide their faith in public for fear of an anti-Semitic attack.
Beyond Charlottesville, Americans- shaken by divisive voices from all sides--should take a hard look across the pond to understand what is at stake for all of us when any minority is marginalized in a democracy. For British Jewry it already is an ugly and frightening reality.
Co-author, historian Dr. Harold Brackman, is a consultant to the Simon Wiesenthal Center