Here’s what the ex-chief rabbi gets up to when he’s not comparing Corbyn to Enoch Powell

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks and Jeremy Corbyn
Support us and go ad-free

The UK’s ex-chief rabbi likened Jeremy Corbyn to Enoch Powell on 28 August. In an interview with the New Statesman, Jonathan Sacks claimed a past remark by the Labour leader was:

the most offensive statement made by a senior British politician since Enoch Powell’s 1968 ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech.

Since his attack, however, people have pointed out that Sacks is no stranger to offense. In fact, there are plenty of things to find hateful about what the ex-chief rabbi gets up to when he’s not attacking Corbyn.

“Most offensive”

The Daily Mail recently unearthed a 2013 video of the Labour leader. In it Corbyn essentially ridiculed a group of “Zionists” after they “berated” the Palestinian ambassador for a speech he made. The Labour leader claimed the group of Zionists present during the speech didn’t “understand English irony” which the ambassador had used “effectively”.

It’s these comments that Sacks compared to Powell’s racist speech. He told the New Statesman:

It was divisive, hateful and like Powell’s speech it undermines the existence of an entire group of British citizens by depicting them as essentially alien.

Contrary to Sacks’s assertion, a Labour spokesperson said the Labour leader wasn’t using the word “Zionists as any kind of shorthand for Jews”.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

“Carnival of hatred”

As an editor for Jacobin pointed out though, Sacks has a ‘hateful’ and ‘offensive’ episode in his not-so-distant past:

The event Ronan Burtenshaw highlighted happened in 2017. The annual march that year coincided with a celebration of Israel’s 50-year-long illegal occupation of East Jerusalem. Sacks extended a “personal invitation” to Jewish people living outside Israel to join him on a visit which included the march and “dancing with our brave IDF soldiers” in occupied Hebron.

It’s hard to think of an event more offensive, divisive and hateful to Palestinians than this celebration. Although Sacks’s comments from 2012 about Israel’s racist crimes are a strong contender:

Sacks effectively dismisses the “by-now routine accusation” that Israel is guilty of multiple human rights violations against the Palestinians by accusing those who claim that of carrying out “an assault on Jews”. Criticism of Israel, according to Sacks’s theory, is about antisemitism. The Palestinians themselves, and the suffering successive Israeli governments have inflicted on them, don’t even really factor into his assessment.

Context is everything

Clearly, the ex-chief rabbi’s offensive and prejudiced words and actions on Palestine are relevant to his attack on Corbyn. Because, on this occasion, the Labour leader was essentially defending the Palestinian ambassador. And Corbyn has also been a longstanding, vocal critic of Israel’s apartheid government.

So far, the New Statesman has failed to give people this context for Sacks’s comparison of Corbyn to Powell. But a lack of context is typical of much of the British media’s reporting on Corbyn. Of course, smears don’t go down too well if they’re not accompanied by a sizable dollop of spin.

Context gets in the way of that.

Get Involved!

Take action with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Join The Canary if you appreciate the work we do.

Featured image via TED – YouTube and Channel 4 News – YouTube

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed