Photo Credit: Jewish Press

It is interesting having dual nationality; it offers you the ability to contrast and compare. As Sting’s song, “Englishman in New York” puts it, “I don’t take coffee, I take tea, my dear, I like my toast done on one side.”

Some comparisons will favor one country and some the other. The English telephone system is faster and better and they drive in general with more attention to the rules than Americans (at least in New York). Americans have a better work ethic and despite the widely inaccurate stereotype, are more friendly and warm than the average Brit.


I have been struggling over the last few years with another distinction between the two countries. This difference is seen most clearly by contrasting their Jewish communities.

Britain’s Labour Party made a fatal mistake in 2014 by changing its rules allowing members of the Far Left, Communists, Trotskyists and others to join. Huge numbers did so and Jeremy Corbyn was elected.

When this man, with an ignominious past of sharing platforms with Holocaust deniers and terrorist supporters took charge, the floodgates for raw anti-Semites and anti-Semitism were opened wide. The attacks on the Jewish community and, of course, Israel skyrocketed. Many UK Jews made plans to leave if Corbyn became Prime Minister. Then on December 12, 2019 a general election took place and Corbyn’s Labour suffered the biggest defeat in its history. The country’s Jews sighed a huge sigh of relief.

The Labour Party’s own analysis of its disaster showed that many of its erstwhile supporters, were simply put off by its anti-Semitism. I can’t recall who described English anti-Semitism as, “Hating Jews more than is absolutely necessary” but he was right on the money. Even the BBC found it hard to disguise their aversion for the man and his allies. Labour had simply gone too far.

British Jews, pre-Corbyn, were overwhelmingly Labour supporters, much in the same way and for the same reasons, that American Jews politically were Democrats.

When Corbyn arrived, their eyes were opened and almost all recognized that the source of the danger and threat to Jews today comes from the Left. Of course, there were a tiny amount of Far-Left Jews and “Celebs” who supported Corbyn. Their excuses and reasoning sounded like someone who had fallen down the rabbit hole. He was a fearless campaigner, “Against Racism”, the truth was being distorted by a Right-Wing Media “Conspiracy” Corbyn was really the “Best Friend” Jews could ever have.

The majority of British Jews, and to be clear, the figure was 95%, stated clearly that they didn’t believe a word of it. Thousands demonstrated outside Parliament holding signs that declared that Corbyn and his party were Anti-Semitic. The historic relationship between Labour and the Jews was gone, probably never to return.

Here in the United States, a similar metamorphosis has been occurring within the Democratic Party. The “Squad” arrived in Congress and the mood music in the historic political home of American Jews changed. Ilhan Omar made repeated anti-Semitic statements accusing Jews of dual loyalty. As criticism mounted, Nancy Pelosi put down a resolution condemning Anti-Semitism. It appears she had not gotten the “memo.” Her Party had changed. Pelosi backed down and replaced the resolution that implicitly condemned Omar, with one that was so diluted that Omar, smiling, happily, voted for it.

Florida Democrat, Ted Deutch, said in an emotional speech on the House floor:

“Why are we unable to singularly condemn anti-Semitism, why can’t we call it anti-Semitism and show we’ve learned the lessons of history?”

Bernie Sanders, who nearly became the Democratic nominee for President, has dialed his anti-Israel rhetoric up to maximum while embracing Omar, Tlaib and Sarsour, et al. Then there was the refusal of the Democratic Party’s candidates for President to attend the Aipac conference.

The evidence of the lurch of the Democrats towards anti-Semitism is as clear here as it was in the UK. There, British Jews rose as one against Corbyn’s Labour. Why has there been no “Achdut” and no American Jewish push back against the Democratic Party? Why do many American Jews have their eyes and minds wide shut when it comes to the danger and threat they face from today’s American Left?


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Rabbi YY Rubinstein is a popular lecturer, a regular broadcaster on BBC National TV and Radio, and the author of 10 books (including, most recently, “Jewish Life and Jewish Laughter”).