British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has taken the narrative lead in a brand new, rather unconvincing video that is apparently intended to make it clear that “People who hold anti-Semitic views have no place in the Labour Party.”
Feel free to hold your breath if you choose to watch.
Corbyn acknowledges in the video that the party has had a problem with anti-Semitism, but goes on – pretty much ad nauseum – to explain how the party will no longer have this problem and how Labour will no longer tolerate anyone in the party who does have this problem and how the party has made a new website (No Plan for Antisemitism) to deal with this.
It’s all quite lovely.
The one teensy little problem with it has to do with the fact that the very person making these pronouncements is the same person who has been repeatedly shown to be a primary example of anti-Semitism in action, personally, himself.
The Jewish Labour Movement was quoted Sunday by The JC news website as saying the attempt by Labour to produce a resource to tackle hate was “too little, far too late.”
That followed the broadcast of a BBC Panorama documentary accusing key Corbyn aides of intervening in anti-Semitism disciplinary cases against members. The party attacked whistleblowers and former staffers who spoke of having “axes to grind” and called the program “misleading” and “inaccurate.”
Corbyn faces an emergency meeting Monday with shadow cabinet ministers over this crisis. He has faced calls from dozens of Labour staff demanding he apologize for the attacks on those who spoke to the BBC; 64 peers meanwhile took out an ad in a national newspaper to attack the party’s handing of the issue.
It was against the backdrop of this nightmare that Corbyn sent out an email, together with his shiny new YouTube video, showing what Labour is doing to address its “anti-Semitism problem.”
In the video above, Corbyn says:
“Hatred towards Jewish people is rising in many parts of the world. Our party is not immune from that poison – and we must drive it out from our movement.
“While other political parties and some of the media exaggerate and distort the scale of the problem in our party, we must face up to the unsettling truth that a small number of Labour members hold anti-Semitic views and a larger number don’t recognize anti-Semitic stereotypes and conspiracy theories.
“The evidence is clear enough. The worst cases of antisemitism in our party have included Holocaust denial, crude Jewish-banker stereotypes, conspiracy theories blaming Israel for 9/11 or every war on the Rothschild family, and even one member who appeared to believe that Hitler had been misunderstood.”
“Anti-Semitic abuse has no place in our Party our movement. No one with such views acts in my name, or the name of our Party. They are not our supporters. And anyone who denies this has surfaced within our Party is contributing to the problem.
“I want Jewish people to feel at home in the Labour Party and be able to play their full part in our campaigning work to take our country forward.
“Driving antisemitism out of our Party for good, and working with the Jewish community to rebuild trust, are vital priorities.
“Anti-racism is at the core of our movement. We must act to unite people of all communities to overcome inequality and prejudice, and build a fair country for all.”
But what Corbyn says does not necessarily match what he actually does. It’s a little difficult to figure out at this point what he means anymore. He has said quite a lot.
Just this past May, Corbyn said the Labour Party is “united in condemning the ongoing human rights abuses by Israeli forces, including the shooting of hundreds of unarmed Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza, most of them refugees or families of refugees, demanding their rights.”
Corbyn also called on the British government to “freeze arms sales to Israel” and promised that “a Labour government will recognize a Palestinian state and press for an immediate return to meaningful negotiations, aimed at achieving a lasting settlement based on UN resolutions, international law and justice that has been too long denied.”
Now, however, he is talking about “multicultural” values in the party and how important it is to ensure that Jews are feeling comfortable in Labour, just in time to quiet down a crisis.
And that, of course, is what this is really all about, right? And by the way, let’s not forget, if you happen to be in England and you’re also British, make sure you don’t forget to vote for Jeremy Corbyn when it comes time to go to the polls . . .