Labour and Jews: Many things are true

It is distressing to see the hurt and division caused by the anti-Semitism row that is splitting the Labour Party. Accusations are flung back and forth people, but more than one thing can be true at the same time. I would suggest that the following things have elements of truth in them.

CORBYN’S PAST.

The Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has spent his life fighting racism in its widest sense. However, he deeply believes in the creation of a Palestinian state and strongly objects to the methods used by the Israeli army to crush Palestinian dissent. In pursuit of this cause he has sometimes aligned himself with people who are rabidly anti-Semitic and want to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth.

Let’s say Corbyn was careless or naïve. That mattered because he was a member of parliament but the significance of his lack of judgement has changed dramatically since he became leader of the Labour Party and potentially Britain’s next Prime Minister.

When this row started he could have made a comprehensive statement regretting his past associations, clearly stating Labour’s position on Israel and Jews and crucially giving a high profile to the party’s action in expelling anti Semites from the party. People like the person who wielded a poster with the shocking slogan “For the Many Not the Jew”, at a pro Corbyn lobby of Westminster recently.

His failure to do these things shows his inability to manage and lead a political party.

Finally, the refusal to accept the widely agreed version of anti-Semitism is believed to be because many of his close associates would be in trouble for past breaches of that code.

ISRAEL’S BEHAVIOUR.

I hope most people in the Labour Party believe that Israel has the right to exist without being threatened by the Arab states around it or by Palestinian terrorist action.

Leaving that fundamental premise behind there is much to criticise in Israel’s current behaviour. The excessive use of force on the Gaza border, the illegal settlements in the occupied territories, and the recent constitutional changes which described the settlements as having “national value”. The reforms went on to downgrade the status of the Arab language and explicitly declared for the first time that Israel was the national home of the Jewish people. Israel is rightly angered by those who describe it as a racist state. It is important therefore that we hear more about its respect for, and welcome of, the Arab minority within its borders.

PLOT AGAINST CORBYN.

A final aspect of this controversy that can also be true is that some of Jeremy Corbyn’s enemies have found this row a very convenient way of attacking him in a wider sense.

Many Labour MPs, perhaps a majority, think he is incapable of achieving a General Election victory or of being a capable Prime Minister.

If this anti-Semitism row undermines his leadership so much the better say some privately. This has led to a bunker mentality in the circle around Corbyn which partly explains why this crisis has gone on for so long.

Follow me @JimHancockUK

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