Michael Rosen sets the record straight on behalf of thousands of Jewish people who support Jeremy Corbyn

Michael Rosen and Jeremy Corbyn
Emily Apple

Jewish author Michael Rosen has responded to the Chief Rabbi’s comments about Jeremy Corbyn. And it’s essential reading, because it sets the record straight on behalf of thousands of Jewish people, myself included, who support the Labour leader.

If you only read the establishment press, you could be forgiven for thinking that antisemitism is rife in the Labour Party and that no Jewish people support Corbyn. This is far from the truth. From the actual numbers of antisemitic allegations within the party being a tiny fraction of its membership to antisemitism in the Conservative Party, there are facts about this supposed ‘crisis’ that simply do not make headline news.

Setting the record straight

Rosen wants to set the record straight on two statements:

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1. I’ve met people who think that there are no Jews left in the Labour Party.
2. I’ve met people who think that the Chief Rabbi is in some way or another in charge of, or a representative of all Jews in Britain.

But as Rosen says:

Neither of these statements is true or anything like true.

He also clarifies that:

I’ve known Jeremy Corbyn for 30 years. He is no antisemite. He has put his neck on the line hundreds of times in opposing racism, antisemitism, far right fascism, holocaust denial.

Thousands of Jewish Labour supporters

Rosen then points out that:

There are thousands of Labour Party members who are Jewish.

He highlights that the media says “it’s impossible or ‘not safe’ for Jews to stay in the Labour Party”. And he accuses the media of ‘dishonesty’ for not giving those Jewish people a voice:

If the media had wanted to, they could have asked Jewish MPs, Jewish candidates in this election ‘Is it impossible or unsafe for you to be in the Labour Party?’ It has been dishonest of them to have not done that.

Election interference

Rosen addresses the Chief Rabbi’s interference in the election, stating:

There are also Rabbis who have either said that they will vote Labour and/or have expressed great concern over the way Jewish religious leaders (Rabbi Romain and the Chief Rabbi) have intervened in this election.

And he believes that:

The silence in the mass media about the dangers of a religious group saying, in effect, ‘don’t vote for Party X’ are very great.

In particular, this is an issue in this election because:

it is a two-horse race. Saying ‘don’t vote Labour’ is in effect saying, ‘Let’s have a victory for the Tories’.

But as Rosen points out, this isn’t a surprise given the Chief Rabbi’s previous support for Johnson. And he clarifies that:

the Chief Rabbi may ‘speak for’ a majority of Jews in the UK but he does not ‘represent’ them. He is the leader of the United Synagogue which has a congregation of around 40,000. According to the Board of Deputies there are 284,000 Jews in the UK. Half of us are affiliated to synagogues, half of us are not.

Fighting antisemitism with um… antisemitism

One of the most heartbreaking and twisted things to come out of the antisemitism ‘crisis’ is Jewish people standing up for Corbyn and facing antisemitic abuse for doing so. Jewish people who support Labour are told they’re ‘the wrong kind of Jew’ or have their opinions dismissed. As Rosen writes:

To say these things has invited Jews and non-Jews on twitter to call me a ‘kapo’ (a Jewish concentration camp guard), a ‘used Jew’ (that from the editor of ‘Jewish News’), someone who ‘dons the cloak of Jewishness’ (a Jewish DJ and actor), one of the ‘useful Jewish idiots’ (from the commentator Dan Hodges), ‘a cheerleader for Soros’ (from Lee Harpin political editor of the Jewish Chronicle), and a plea to the BBC to not employ me to present ‘Word of Mouth’ (from the QC Simon Myerson and the campaigner against antisemitism (!) Euan Philips).

Clearly some people think that the best way to combat antisemitism is to be antisemitic.

The twisted spectre of this means that many Jewish people aren’t anxious about Corbyn but they are anxious about speaking up for Corbyn. A climate of fear has been created for Jewish people. It’s just not fear of the Labour Party gaining power.

‘Who am I safer with?’

Meanwhile, Rosen takes aim at the antisemitism in the Conservative Party that somehow doesn’t hit the headlines in the same way:

Johnson is a bigot and a liar. He and the Tories have been quite content to snuggle up to extreme right wing and antisemitic parties in Europe – like Orban in Hungary. He has also kept quiet about the pattern of antisemitism coming from Jacob Rees-Mogg, who has talked of his Jewish colleagues in the House of Commons as ‘illuminati’, questioned whether they ‘understand’ the constitution, he has done the ‘Soros jibe’ (this is an antisemitic ‘trope’ about the financier Soros deemed to be an international wheeler and dealer); Rees-Mogg has also retweeted a tweet from the Alternative für Deutschland – the far-right organisation in Germany and he has had dinner with the far-right British organisation, ‘Traditional Britain Group’.

And this leads Rosen to ask a fundamentally important question:

Ask me, who am I ‘safer’ with: a Johnson-led government with its record of the ‘hostile environment’, persecution of Windrush generation, and persistent antisemitic jibes from leading party members or this Labour Party, and I say, Labour every time.

It all comes down to class

Crucially, Rosen also says that he isn’t just looking at the election as a Jewish issue. Because fundamentally, the election is about class.

But I don’t look at the election purely through a Jewish prism. It is a clear class issue: a Tory government will continue to ravage the lives of of working class people through attacks on wages, public services, and the disabled. A Labour government will halt these and start to reverse them.

Rosen is right. This election is about class. It’s about whether we want a society run by and for elites or whether we want radical and positive change. If I really believed antisemitism was rife in the Labour Party and promoted by its leader, then I wouldn’t vote Labour. But I don’t. I believe that Corbyn’s Labour is being attacked from every angle because he is a direct challenge to decades of rule by the elite.

So if the antisemitism issue is putting you, your friends, or your family off voting Labour, listen to people like Rosen. Listen to the other Jewish voices that aren’t promoted in the mainstream press. Because there are lots of us. And we believe a Labour government will benefit all of us.

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  • Show Comments
    1. This is the sort of intelligent, well thought out response, to the attacks and screams of ‘anti-semitism’ that seem to have become all the mainstream media wants to print, that the UK needs to read. Mr Rosen is so spot on about how those Jewish people who have stood up for and defended Jeremy Corbyn have themselves been subjected to anti-Semitic attacks, often by those claiming to be fighting anti-Semitism like Gnasherjew and Sussex Friends of Israel. Thank heavens for the independent media like the Canary and others who print the truth and who do not defend the rampant racism of all kinds that is prevalent within the Tory party.

    2. Up to now I didn’t think Corbyn was an anti Semite but his emphasis on Epstein’s name to emphasis his Jewish heritage was unbelievably crass. If he wants to brand jews as child groomers good luck to him but for his Muslim supporter base, child grooming ,as recent trials have shown, is almost an Olympic event

      1. I grew up in a north London Jewish community in the 1960’s and amongst Jewish and non-Jewish Londononers of the time, it was perfectly normal for some people to pronounce sunames ending in ‘stein’ as ‘shtein’. The ridiculous notion that this intonation has an anti-semitic twist was invented by the editor of Jewish News as part of his daily anti-Labour /Corbyn diatribe.
        Your comment’s sole intention seems to be to repeat a racist trope regularly used against both Jews AND Muslims by the far-right.

    3. Michael Rosen’s statement says everything that needs to be said on the subject . There are many Jews like myself whose views are not represented by the Chief Rabbi, the Jewish press, Board of Deputies, The Jewish Labour Movement or any similar partisan bodies. We are regularly attacked for expressing an alternative point of view, ‘kapo’ being a popular term of abuse. I’m sure that many likeminded Jewish people feel cowed into silence by the online thugs or fear being judged by their friends and families if they speak up.
      I am Jewish and I have no fear whatsoever of a Labour government, least of all for reasons of antisemitism.

      1. The problem with Corbyn is that he really isn’t that bright. His emphasis on Epstein’s name apart why show your apparent ‘solidarity’ with the Jewish people by attending a Seder evening with a Jewdos a Group that quite obviously doesn’t reflect mainstream thinking.
        Don’t get me wrong anti Semitism isn’t just a left wing ideology. There’s no doubt the right wing media are this issue as a stick to beat Corbyn with but there’s no love of Jews on the right and not just the far right. Growing up in north London, as a Jew, admission to certain golf and tennis clubs, pretty much conservative strongholds, was in many cases impossible

    4. Well done Michael Rosen. His core point is the media bias. The organisations or individuals attacking Corbyn are never examined, but some are apologists for the Israeli State. They are always presented as if they are virtuous and beyond bias because they are Jewish. So, let’s consider this: “All Jews are virtuous”. What’s the difference between that and: “All Jews are financiers”? To subsume individuals to a category and attribute a set of characteristics is the essence of racism. If I were to say: “All blacks are virtuous”. There would be fury. Yet what is being implied by the media is that all Jews who criticise Corbyn are beyond criticism ie their virtue is not in question. As Noam Comsky has said: “Why are Jewish groups immune from criticism, alone in the world?” The answer, of course, is Palestine. Corbyn is not antisemitic. The Labour Party is not antisemitic. But both are in favour of justice for the Palestinians. That is the sin for according to Zionist eschatology, the Palestinians have no rights. The twisted logic at work is transparent and the more the Zionist lobby applies it, the more threadbare it becomes. But the media have behaved shamefully, as Rosen says. They have never given voice to the Jews who are members of Labour, support Corbyn and feel at home with both.

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