There’s one crucial sentence missing from the mainstream media’s coverage of the Chief Rabbi’s comments

Chief Rabbi and Boris Johnson
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Antisemitism in the Labour Party is dominating the headlines again after the Chief Rabbi decided to intervene in the election. Ephraim Mirvis described the antisemitism ‘crisis’ in the Times:

A new poison – sanctioned from the top – has taken root in the Labour Party.

Mirvis further claimed that:

It is not my place to tell any person how they should vote. I regret being in this situation at all. I simply pose the question: What will the result of this election say about the moral compass of our country?

But the subtext is clear – don’t vote Labour. Unsurprisingly, the establishment press has lapped up his comments. But the coverage is missing one crucial and short sentence; a sentence which allows readers to put his comments into context: that Mirvis described Johnson as a “longstanding friend”.

Congratulations on your new job

When Johnson was elected as PM, Mirvis wrote:

I am delighted to congratulate Boris Johnson, a longstanding friend and champion of the Jewish community, on becoming the next leader of the Conservative Party and our next Prime Minister.

Read on...

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Now this could be read as describing Johnson as a friend ‘to the Jewish community’ or as a personal friend. Either way, Mirvis certainly seems keen to cultivate a cosy relationship. He continues:

As he accepts upon himself the mantle of responsibility to lead our nation, may he be blessed with the wisdom to successfully navigate the political uncertainties we face and bring healing and prosperity to our great country.

But, whether it’s the Guardian or the Mail, you’d be hard-pressed to find any reference to this ‘longstanding friendship’ anywhere in the media coverage. This is important. Not because it’s down to any of us to make assumptions about Mirvis’s intentions in writing his piece. But because it gives essential and crucial context to his comments.

Meanwhile, ‘leading’ journalists such as Laura Kuenssberg and Robert Peston, uncritically parroted his remarks on Twitter without any counterbalance given from Jewish people who disagree with Mirvis – something which at least some of the press did manage.


This fact also gives context to some of the elements of Mirvis’s article that just can’t be taken seriously. For example, he asks:

How complicit in prejudice would a leader of Her Majesty’s opposition have to be to be considered unfit for office?

A question he should really be asking of his “longstanding friend” Johnson rather than Corbyn, an MP who’s spent his life fighting racism and prejudice. Seriously, we have a PM who’s refused to apologise for describing Muslim women as ‘letterboxes’ – a comment that was demonstrably linked to a rise in hate crime – and Mirvis is attacking an anti-fascist for “prejudice”. At best it’s twisted. At worst, it’s dark and manipulative.

And as Jewish writer Michael Rosen pointed out, Johnson supported a far-right leader who is actually antisemitic.

Now ‘whataboutery’ is not a good look. All racism and prejudice need tackling whether it’s antisemitism or Islamophobia. But when you have a Conservative Party that’s embroiled in numerous and far-reaching accusations of Islamophobia that aren’t being taken seriously and don’t dominate the headlines in the same way, serious questions need to be asked. And that’s also ignoring the issue of antisemitism in the Conservative Party, which seems to barely warrant a mention.

Mirvis doesn’t speak for all Jewish people

One thing is clear. Mirvis doesn’t speak for all Jewish people – myself included. A point many Jewish people made on Twitter:

Fear and anxiety

Mirvis wrote that:

the overwhelming majority of British Jews are gripped by anxiety.

As a British Jew, I do feel anxiety. But as I’ve written before, this fear isn’t caused by Corbyn but the climate that’s been manufactured around the antisemitism crisis – something this Twitter user also pointed out:

And as another Jewish person wrote before the Chief Rabbi made his comments:

Despite the doomsday picture being painted for British Jews, I’m not fearful of Corbyn or the possibility of him reaching 10 Downing Street. Nor do I believe that the Labour Party is “poisoned” or “rampant” with antisemitism. But what has left me horrified over the last four years has been the reckless and irresponsible way in which antisemitism has been used to vilify Corbyn and make the entire Labour Party appear toxic.

This is exactly how I feel. And now it’s more important than ever that Jewish people who support Corbyn speak out and provide an alternative to the narrative the establishment press is desperate to perpetuate. It’s utterly clear the mainstream media isn’t going to provide the full picture when it universally misses out such a crucial fact from all its coverage. So it’s down to all of us to shout about it and spread this message far and wide.

Featured image via Flickr – Chatham House / YouTube – OxfordUnion

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  • Show Comments
    1. I am sixty-six years of age. I have always tried to take an interest in politics. NEVER have I heard mention of the Labour Party being anti-semetic. Until JC became leader. I can only assume there are a lot of people scared that he will become Prime Minister. (A real one, not the embarrassing excuse we have at present).

      1. Groucho, the whole thing is fabricated by a section of the Jewish Community who do not want a Labour Government who will recognise Palestine and challenge vested interests in certain Jewish communities. However, 3 Conservative MPs have been suspended this week for clear, blatant, racist anti-semitic comments. Read about them in the paper have you?

    2. A number of respected Jewish organisations have come out in support of the chief Rabbi Including Justin Welby. None of these groups or organisations are known for radicalism. The issue is that the far left see Jews as part of a capitalist conspiracy to rule the world at the expense of the workers. The greatest sin in their eyes is is to be female and Jewish as instanced by the various Jewish MP’s calling out anti semitism in the Labour party. Jeremy Corbyn should be ashamed.

      1. I think you need to ask yourself why the Labour Party is being singled out when anti-semitism exists in other parties and indeed throughout society? In fact, the figures are out there (from You Gov of all organisations) that suggest it exists to a lesser extent amongst Labour supporters than amongst Tory supporters and indeed less than in society as a whole. What evidence do you have to support your claim regarding the “far left”? You don’t even say “some” on the far left. I have a question for you. Do you think Labour’s stance on Palestine and the attacks on Corbyn are related in any way?

      2. What, Ashamed of something that doesn’t exist? Israel has been officially designated now as an Apartheid State. It is a brutal regime that advocates genocide of the Palestinians, that has murdered hundreds of thousand of Palestinian, Journalists, young people without any legal sanction against it. It also does not recognise Palestinians as human beings and therefore, do not treat them as such and, on a daily basis, subjugate them to torture, inhumanity, deprivation, secret detention – read Noam Chomsky – a Prominent Jewish Commentator.

        Don’t make excuses, as Palestinians are semites, then the only anti-semites in the room is the Israeli Government, their UK Embassy and their operatives.

        Look at the video, The Lobby, it shows clearly, very clearly, that the Israeli Embassy in the UK offered two MPs a million pounds to bring down Jeremy Corbyn. You should be asking why would they do this? Why: Because the Israeli Government do not want a Government that will recognise Palestine and probably impose sanctions on Israel as an officially Apartheid nation.

        Go Figure

    3. I wasn’t aware that Justin Welby was part of a ‘respected jewish organisation’ but i’m fairly sure that wasn’t what you intended however i do believe that the US and it’s allies will leave no stone unturned in their attempt to destroy any socialist movement before it can blossom. Americas history of interferring in South American politics is legend. The fact that jewish organisations have been dragged into this devious skullduggery is shameful and degrading for those concerned but should be rcognised for what it is, establishment doublethink and dirty tricks.

    4. Im anxious too, antisemitism and other forms of small minded hatred are on the rise and people are being conditioned to look in the opposite direction. One of the main causes behind antisemitism and the rise in hatred generally is severe economic distress, austerity, wealth inequality and people not being held to account for financial crimes, as in 2008, has provided fertile ground for these bitter seeds to flourish.

      Then there is the toxic brew watering these seeds online, in the media and elsewhere, often overlapping with techniques that are classed as psychological weapons at one end, misinformation and cruder forms of propaganda, like repetition of message at the other and it’s no wonder so many are confused and anxious.

      There is a far more dangerous economic ideology being introduced that will make neo liberalism seem restrained, it’s been creeping up on us for decades, mainly initiated by the american oligarch class, one of the consequences will be the destruction of the middle class, so there is a clear delineation between the haves and the have nothing’s. Part of the preparation for this is to target the groups that will offer the most resistance. Democracy in chains by Nancy McLean is a recommended read that goes into some of these plans from the american side of the pond.

    5. A couple of interesting articles, both written by Jews, which show where Mirvis is coming from. In that from the Morning Star, the main subject is Mirvis’ predecessor, Sacks, but Mirvis gets a bit part with regard to the egregiously provocative “March of the Flags”.

      In that from the Times of Israel, Mirvis’ participation in this unpleasant event is the main subject.

      With regard to Justin Welby, I’m an Anglican and will try to find out more. If successful, I’ll post again.


    6. If you really and truthfully believe, that Jeremy Corbyn is an anti semite. Then you are either, ill informed, or deluded. Being either, or both, of these, would be the only reason, for voting for the “proven racist”, Boris Johnson.

    7. What should really make you anxious is that hundreds of Labour Party members have been suspended or expelled for no more than criticising the State of Israel or Zionism. Chris Williamson, according to Zionist apologists, is an anti-Semite because he made a comment that Labour shouldn’t be apologetic about its record on fighting anti-Semitism. As Noam Chomsky pointed out, there was nothing remotely anti-Semitic in Williamson’s comment. In the recent kerfuffle over the book launch at UCL, Chomsky said this: “Why are Jewish groups immune from criticism, alone in the world?” That is what should make you anxious. Chomsky has been on the receiving end of decades of abuse and vilification, some of it from Jews. When have you ever heard a leading Jewish voice come to his defence? Has any UK rabbi ever defended Chomsky’s right to criticise Israel? Has any Jewish Labour MP ever condemned the abuse he receives? Chomsky has said that he was abused over Vietnam and civil rights for coloureds, but that Israel is unique. He’s right. It’s unique because what is going on is that a religious definition is blended with a political doctrine and practice and to criticise the latter is presumed to be prejudice against the former.
      You may have seen the protester at Corbyn’s event yesterday holding a placard reading: Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism. That is like arguing anti-Toryism is anti-Christian. Zionism is not a religion. It is a political creed. It is a creed of messianic entitlement, terrorism, ethnic cleansing, racism and oppression. Yet the sleight of hand of the Zionists conflates the political doctrine with the religious faith. Isaiah Berlin asked in famous essay: Who is a Jew? The question persists. For the Zionists, the answer is, only Zionists are true Jews. Hence the despicable history of Zionist anti-Semitism. When is this history ever referred to by those Jews who claim to be exercised by anti-Semitism. Let’s talk about the sinking of the Patria. Of course, they won’t.
      Rabbi Mirvis has made a cowardly political intervention by hiding behind religion. This is what Chomsky’s remark gets at: Jewish groups claim absolute virtue, innocence, victimhood and therefore exemption from criticism. They do so by muddying the waters: if you criticise our politics, you are attacking our religion and our “race”. This is, of course, the most intellectually and morally bereft absurdity. There is no such thing as the Jewish “race” any more than there is such a thing as the Christian “race”. So what is meant by “the Jewish people”? Does that make any more sense than “the Christian people” or indeed “the atheist people”? It is this deliberate confusion of realms and terms which is constantly employed by Zionists to establish an impregnable position: our status as a “people”, our religion and our politics are one. Criticise any part of this and you are an anti-Semite.
      The Labour Party announced yesterday that it will fund the CST (Community Security Trust). Ostensibly an innocent charity, the CST has engaged in intelligence gathering for the British State. Can there be any doubt that what they have found will have been passed to Mossad? The Labour Party has just decided to fund a body which operates as a surreptitious, private spy agency. Leading figures in the CST have evinced hostility to the Labour Party in general and Corbyn in particular. This is what happens when people fall for the Zionist distortions.
      There is a simple way out: hating and abusing Jews because they are Jews should be a hate crime, but Zionism is a political doctrine and must be open to attack like any political doctrine in a democracy. If I say I hate the Tory Party, as I do, no one would accuse me of racism or religious prejudice. So it must be with Zionism. Opposition to Zionism is a viable position in a democracy because Zionism is a political creed and nothing more. Opposition to Judaism would be an idiocy in that freedom of belief is a fundamental human right.
      What should really make you anxious is the totalitarianism of Zionism. The Nation State law is illustrative. What should really make you anxious is the Kafkaesque process in the Labour Party which has suspended and expelled innocent people many of whom have been left in limbo, not knowing what they accused of and their cases stalled for moths or years. What should really make you anxious is that Zionists who believe the State of Israel should not be criticised for its treatment of the Palestinians, who refuse to condemn the “settlements”, who tacitly support the Israeli project to occupy the whole of Palestine are having a significant influence on our political, cultural and moral life because they claim if you take them on, you are an anti-Semite. As Frank Kafka began: “Someone must have been telling lies……”

    8. Those who “call out antisemitism” in the Labour Party are often racists like Norman Tebbit or MPs who voted for the 2014 immigration act. It is also designed to silence criticism of Israel, these people are on the same side as the like the English Defense League who have Israeli flags on their marches.

    9. my email to Rabbi staff.
      ON possible/could be /or maybe/ doggy things going on in Dec 12th G.E. with
      Possible/could be/or maybe/ Tory Govt members + the Jewish Rabbi
      To control OUR Dec G.E. outcome by rich people getting in evolved now voter
      This email sent to the JC members today 27.11.2019
      For answer from the Rabbi on our Dec G.E. 2019

      Hallow Rabbi
      Why have you NOT replied to my TWEETS yet
      I would like input from you SIR before Dec G.E.
      My tweets put to you and your followers Rabbi
      I as a British resident plus voter wish to know why you are targeting Labour party ONLY SIR
      I will inform you Rabbi I am a free voter NO ties to any Govt party be them in power or out of power
      BUT I DO VOTER in all election G.E.-By-election in the U.K.
      I do beleave you are interfering now with our right to a free voter
      You sir are trying to affect the outcome of the voter of British people.
      This is against our rules of voting or any election for in the U.K. for any outside personal
      Trying to bring a party down for that person personal gain ONLY for his action.
      IN addiction take another party side that dose the exact same thing as you,
      accuses Labour party off RABBI
      The Tory party have very bad rasit members on board their party SIR
      So, if you wish to run our country with help of Tory Govt members Rabbi
      Will we people + voter of U.K. of over religions have to change our religions to comply with your SIR YES OR NO??
      So, we end up with a Jewish religion taking over our British country and its people.
      You could spend your time defending your own county not trying to break up our U.K. country
      That took your religion people in after the BAD wars,
      WE people + residents in the U.K. STILL HAVE FREEDOM OF SPEACH Rabbi be you like it or not SIR.
      Unlike your country you run away from SIR (You should be helping them you left be hide in your county)
      Not trying to break up our U.K./Wales/Scotland/N/Ireland—islands for your personal gain Rabbi.
      If you have a problem with ANY of our elected Govt members (vote in power by us public voters)
      ask us resident about the problem (you could have got your messages out)
      to us voters + residents by live T.V. show/newspaper/ radio shows
      DO NOT try to Dictate to us resident ask us for help and understanding SIR
      Not interfere with our right to vote in the Dec G.E. 2019
      freely SIR a party we British people wish in power be you like it or not sir
      LINK to post 26.11.2019
      on this article this morning to Rabbi
      Tweets — 26.11.2019
      The Rabbi as so far failed to respond to voters.
      To Rabbi having a go at our Govt parties
      Just to say on this matter –we voter do not for any religion to run our county so stop preaching to us voter
      Religion leader of all faiths FACT you are not M.P.
      Nor do you have the right to govern over us as residents + voter that do not agree with your religion of views on our elected Govt party’s Chief Rabbi.
      You bring all the miss trust in religion on yourself
      Rabbi by attacking our elected Govt parties
      Just to spread rubbish and Insight the voters
      For your personal gains ONLY.
      So politely say Rabbi if you wish to bring down a Govt party for your needs only how about you go home
      And remove the Govt in your own lands not U.K.
      That keep you safe SIR.
      I will politely say they is NO need for any religion
      Within elected Govt jobs(party’s) as the voter 80% of them do not vote for a religion leader in power a fact.
      Just think about this Rabbi if the pope was Labour
      Or Tory Leader would you have a go at him for his personal views Rabbi if they are not yours. Yes or no?
      (I bet NOT SIR)
      FACT Rabbi we are not in the old times now must voter
      Do not really bother about religion at all when voting
      So, you keep to instructing your flock of follower on what to do but not us voters.
      I also as a voter of the British lands
      Rabbi wish to know the truth from you SIR as to WHY?
      you are not also holding Tory Govt to-acount on this matter, have they possibly or could have or maybe have offer anything to disgraces Labour leader at Dec G.E. time?
      like could they have offered you a new prayer places for you to invoke unrest in our county plus unrest at a very important Dec G.E. time Rabbi yes or no?
      I personally be-leave more is going on here Rabbi.

      Tweets dated 26.11.2019
      This person below called my a mad -rasit for asking you question only
      He posted on my tweet pages is anger plus bad remarks towards me personally
      To a’ IDIOT! -Seb Torrential
      COME ON SIR–Seb Torrential
      How can I be a rasit when am asking the Rabbi question?
      I do not call him anything or disrespect him
      like he is Labour leader a fact sir
      You sir Seb Torrential
      need to ask the Rabbi what he is possibly or could be getting from Tory govt to start a possibly’ riot off come Dec G.E. time with us voters in the U.k.
      The Rabbi likes to tell us voters in U.K. what to do why dose he not Go back to is homeland and tell his own Govt what to do at voting times their- ask him why he does not go home to rant??
      He must stop meddling with our elected Govt party’s or members of that party be he disagree or no with them
      As our Govt is elected by all not just over religions people.

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