CORRECTION: The original article stated there was less antisemitism in the Labour Party than in most other parties, including the Conservative Party. The report it referenced actually compared antisemitism among Labour and Conservative supporters (voters), not members. The article was corrected at 11.10am on 11 November.
The Jewish Chronicle has issued a front page calling on all non-Jews to refuse to vote Labour, on behalf of all Jews. It’s a new low for this conservative muckspreader of a publication. First, it’s a call they have no right to make; the Chronicle speaks only for itself, not all Jews. Worse, it shows contempt for the experiences of LGBTQI+ people and people of colour, because these groups have been facing down the very real discrimination and racism of successive Conservative-led governments. The Chronicle is weaponising bogus accusations of antisemitism, to hand us all over to very real racists. And all because they’d prefer a Conservative government. On behalf of this gay woman of colour, they can get well and truly stuffed.
The front page from hell
This is disgraceful. The editorship of the Jewish Chronicle does not speak for me. I implore non-Jews to ignore this nonsense.
— Dave Curtis (@davecurtis314) November 7, 2019
The place to start is this: there is less antisemitism among Labour Party supporters than among supporters of most other political parties. And this includes the Conservative Party:
No other party has investigated racism in its ranks. In fact, Boris Johnson has kicked such plans firmly into the long grass. But Labour held the Chakrabarti Inquiry into antisemitism and other forms of prejudice in the party, which concluded:
The Labour Party is not overrun by antisemitism, Islamophobia or other forms of racism. Further, it is the party that initiated every single United Kingdom race equality law. However, as with wider society, there is too much clear evidence (going back some years) of minority hateful or ignorant attitudes and behaviours festering within a sometimes bitter incivility of discourse. This has no place in a modern democratic socialist party that puts equality, inclusion and human rights at its heart.
The party also capitulated to the press-run smear campaign, with the quickfire ouster of virtually anyone accused. There has been a McCarthyite air about the whole thing. ‘Being accused is being guilty. No proof is required of guilt, and no amount of evidence is satisfactory to prove innocence.’
It’s no longer about being antisemitic, but about ‘contributing to an atmosphere’. These contributions seem to amount to criticising Apartheid Israel, or advocating for more sharing. Because these are the two priorities of the Jewish Chronicle: protect the racist Israeli government, and promote Conservative politics. These are the most important identities to the Jewish Chronicle, not Judaism. This is evident, given its fanatical hostility toward left-wing, anti-zionist Jews.
The racist history of the Jewish Chronicle
Perhaps the most odious element of the smear campaign is the anti-Palestinian racism that seems to drive it. As independent journalist Asa Winstanley highlights in a Twitter thread, the Jewish Chronicle is front and centre on that.
In 2009, the Jewish Chronicle was forced to pay out £30,000 in damages to Raphael Cohen. The Chronicle had published false accusations that the peace activist harboured not one, but two, suicide bombers.
In 2010, editor Stephen Pollard was forced to apologise and pay damages after falsely accusing an Islamic conference of being “a racist, fascist and genocidal organisation”. It was Islam Expo, a well-respected-and-attended conference of exhibitions and debates around Muslim life and culture.
In 2014, a summer-long Israeli bombardment of Gaza killed more than 2,000 Palestinians, including 500 children. The Jewish Chronicle was forced to correct a report claiming Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) director Sarah Colborne had “acknowledged” that protests against the bombardment been used to “peddle hatred” against Jews. Colborne had actually said:
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign opposes all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, and racism directed against Palestinians whether living in the West Bank and Jerusalem, or as citizens of Israel.
And just this year, the Jewish Chronicle again paid out damages for anti-Palestinian libel. This time to Interpal, a British charity providing aid to Palestinians. After another round of false allegations, the Chronicle was forced to “accept that neither Interpal, nor its trustees, have ever been involved with or provided support for terrorist activity of any kind”.
The paper routinely libels charities and individuals that seek to mitigate the atrocities which the Israeli state perpetrates against Palestinians. And it weaponises Islamophobia and antisemitism to do it.
The very real racists
The thing is, you don’t need to squint or bang your head repeatedly against a wall to see what’s racist about Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party. Theresa May explicitly stated her mission was to create a “hostile environment”. And she did, with the help of her entire party. The Windrush scandal saw Caribbean immigrants of my grandfather’s generation deported, after decades building lives and families in this country. Dexter Bristol fell to the ground and died of a heart attack while the Home Office attempted to force him out of the country. Others were refused NHS treatment for terminal illnesses due to the change in their immigration status. All without a word of warning, and scarcely an apology.
In June 2017, we watched 72 people die at Grenfell Tower. And it was clear to everyone watching that the anti-immigrant, pro-austerity policies of the Conservative-led government created the conditions for the fire.
Boris Johnson himself has referred to burqa-wearing women as “letterboxes”, gay men as “bumboys”, and Black people as “piccaninnies” with “water-melon smiles”. There was no mass-media assault on racism in the Conservative Party. There was no inquiry. And the reason for that speaks volumes about the real versus imagined burden of racism in this country.
Any racism, against any group, by anyone, is unacceptable. That’s the position of any bona fide anti-racist. But the Jewish Chronicle is not running an anti-racist campaign. It’s a racist campaign, leveraging the language of anti-racism to shield itself from criticism. And that is beneath contempt.
The Jewish Chronicle is asking me, as a gay woman of colour, to vote for homophobic racists. Not to protect Jews from antisemitism; because only an idiot would believe Jeremy Corbyn is an existential threat to Jewish life. This is political. It’s pushing for a Johnson government that will cut the taxes of the wealthy and renew Britain’s support for Apartheid Israel. Neither of these positions are universally-held among British Jews. The Jewish Chronicle is speaking for its editorial team alone. But it’s weaponising antisemitism and Jewish identity itself – in support of not one, but two racist governments.
Or maybe they’d like me to vote for the Liberal Democrats? Sure, the party once elected a leader who thinks gay sex is a sin. And yeah, during their time in the Coalition government their health and social care policy was linked to the deaths of 120,000 people. Oh and of course they’ve recently welcomed homophobic and racist Tory defectors. But hey, Corbyn wore a cardigan once so, you know… six of one, half a dozen of the other!
For English voters, Labour is the least racist, least homophobic mainstream party we can hope to vote for right now. That’s before we even get into saving the NHS, schools, our police and firefighters, or solving the crises in housing and the environment. And this smear campaign is just a last-ditch attempt to prevent that anti-racist, socialist party forming a government.
The Jewish Chronicle is trying to shame us into voting for elitist, homophobic racists, and weaponising minority status to do so. This is a new low. And with the record of this particularly bilious rag, that’s quite an achievement. On behalf of this gay woman of colour, they can get well and truly stuffed.
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