Corbyn’s response to a horrific assault highlights his lifelong fight against antisemitism

Jeremy Corbyn
Ed Sykes

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has faced endless propaganda accusing him and his party of antisemitism. But the truth is that he has a long record of opposing antisemitism and all forms of racism. This record continues today; and Corbyn’s response to a recent racist attack made that crystal clear.

“The only party leader who called”

On 29 November, two racists in London left a rabbi “bleeding and dazed”, shouting “kill the Jews” as they attacked him. Corbyn quickly offered his solidarity:

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Rabbi Herschel Gluck is the chair of Shomrim, a neighbourhood watch group opposing anti-Jewish hate crimes. And he spoke out about the horrific assault. Mentioning his phone conversation with Corbyn, he said:

We deeply appreciate his concern. He sounded extremely genuine. He was the only party leader who called.

Revealing that minority communities like the Haredi Jews are facing regular attacks, he clarified:

I do not think any of the attacks in Hackney have been caused by issues in the Labour Party or Jeremy Corbyn…

These are antisemitic attacks, pure and simple, and I think they are part of a pattern that started long before Brexit and have increased exponentially since the current government came in

He also pointed to severe funding cuts to the police since the Conservative Party took power in 2010 as a factor fuelling the increase in hate crimes.

Corbyn’s current record on opposing racism

Since becoming Labour leader, veteran anti-racist Jeremy Corbyn has taken firm action against the very small amounts of racism within the party, apologising profusely for any that exists. And as Labour general secretary Jennie Formby recently outlined in detail, the party has done “serious and extensive work” to stamp out antisemitism in particularNumerous high-profile Jewish figures have openly supported Corbyn and his party in this fight. They’ve also accused his right-wing opponents of ‘weaponising’ allegations of antisemitism to try and undermine his popularity.

A life opposing antisemitism

Corbyn’s record of opposing antisemitism before he became Labour leader, meanwhile, is long. For example:

  • In 1977, he reportedly “helped organise the defence of Jewish-populated Wood Green from a National Front rally”; as one historian has outlined in detail.
  • In 1987, he successfully worked to prevent property developers from getting control of a Jewish cemetery.
  • In 1990, he signed an early day motion (EDM) expressing “deep concern at the increase in the dissemination of antisemitic and racist materials in the United Kingdom”. It then insisted that “firm, swift and effective action must be taken to cure neo-Nazi activity”. 86 Labour MPs signed this, but only 15 Conservatives joined them.
  • In 1992, he tabled an EDM which opposed a “fascist seminar” seeking to “deny the occurrence of the holocaust by the Nazis against Jews and others in Germany”. He called it “part of an attempted resurgence of the far right in Europe” and demanded its cancellation. 47 of the EDM’s 49 backers were Labour MPs. Only one was a Conservative.
  • In 1994, he signed an EDM which expressed concern that antisemitism was “on the rise throughout Europe”. This called for the government to “ensure that incitement to antisemitic and racial hatred is prosecuted to the full extent of the law”. 86 Labour MPs signed this EDM. Only 1 Conservative joined them.

The list goes on and on, with at least 50 examples circulating on the internet:

Johnson’s Conservatives, on the other hand…

Tory leader Boris Johnson, meanwhile, doesn’t have the longstanding anti-racist record Corbyn has. In fact, his record is quite the opposite; a long list of insults against women, ethnic minority groups, religious minority groups, the LGBTQIA+ community, and working-class people.

The Conservatives under Johnson’s control aren’t doing any better, either. Because they have long faced allegations of antisemitism, with ties to antisemitic, far-right parties in Europe being a particular cause for concern. At least two Tory candidates, meanwhile, are currently facing allegations of antisemitism. And former Tory prime minister Theresa May has just unveiled a statue remembering a politician accused of “virulent antisemitism”, which Johnson gladly visited. That’s not even mentioning Johnson adviser Dominic Cummings recently facing accusations of antisemitic dogwhistling himself:

The Tory Islamophobia crisis, meanwhile, seems to be out of control. Because despite the Muslim community’s repeated calls for an official inquiry, Johnson’s government has so far failed to investigate the crisis. Statistics have previously shown that 56% of Conservative Party members believe “Islam is a threat to the British way of life”.

The choice should be simple

The billionaire media will no doubt continue to amplify the right-wing voices trying to convince Britain that Corbyn is somehow a racist. But look at the record of Corbyn, and then look at the record of his opponents. Doing that, the choice at this election is simple. We can vote for Corbyn – a veteran anti-racist who has won peace prizes for his efforts; or for Johnson – a well-known bigot leading a thoroughly racist party.

Featured image via Wikimedia – Sophie J. Brown

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