Corbyn launches online guide to fighting against antisemitism

Ed Sykes

On 21 July, Jeremy Corbyn emailed Labour Party members to announce the launch of “education materials for our members and supporters to help them confront bigotry, wherever it arises”. The “first materials” deal with antisemitism.

Corbyn explained:

The struggle for liberation of all people is never complete and must always be renewed. As a movement, we educate ourselves and each other to better stand in solidarity with and unite all those facing oppression and discrimination.

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And addressing the new materials on fighting antisemitism, he said:

Hatred towards Jewish people is rising in many parts of the world. Our party is not immune from that poison – and we must drive it out from our movement.

“Our movement can be the strongest anti-racist force in our country”

Numerous reports and polls in recent years show that antisemitism exists across society; but it’s most common among far-right groups. Accusations of antisemitism in the Labour Party, meanwhile, reportedly relate to 0.06% of the party’s 540,000-strong membership. And under Corbyn’s leadership, Labour has been taking action to fight against this, and all forms of racism. But mainstream media outlets reporting on these issues have faced accusations of “misleading”, ‘distorted’, and “inaccurate” coverage.

In his email, Corbyn stressed that:

While other political parties and some of the media exaggerate and distort the scale of the problem in our party, we must face up to the unsettling truth that a small number of Labour members hold antisemitic views and a larger number don’t recognise antisemitic stereotypes and conspiracy theories.

He also explained that:

The worst cases of antisemitism in our party have included Holocaust denial, crude Jewish-banker stereotypes, conspiracy theories blaming Israel for 9/11 or every war on the Rothschild family, and even one member who appeared to believe that Hitler had been misunderstood.

And he added:

So please engage with the materials we are producing… so our movement can be the strongest anti-racist force in our country.

Defeating antisemitism

The online guide gives “Labour members and supporters… some basic tools to understand antisemitism so that we can defeat it”. It outlines some “conspiracy theories” which ascribe to Jewish people or the state of Israel an “influence on world events far beyond any objective analysis”. And it insists that holding Jewish people around the world “responsible for what Israel does is antisemitic”. It also stresses that:

Antisemitic conspiracy theories don’t just do harm to Jewish people, they also divert attention away from the real causes of war, poverty and injustice.

Regarding the ideology of political Zionism, and “the concepts of Israel, Zion and Jerusalem”, the guide stresses that:

The sensitivities around these concepts should be considered before using them.

But it clarifies:

That does not mean limiting legitimate criticism of the Israeli state or its policies or diluting support for the Palestinian people’s struggle for justice, their own state, and the rights of refugees and their descendants.

It also insists that:

Anti-Zionism is not in itself antisemitic and some Jews are not Zionists.

It concludes that “Labour exists to promote the social liberation of all people”. And it shares “some helpful links and resources” to defeat antisemitism.

Featured image via YouTube – Owen Jones

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    1. All this is doing is feeding into the narrative of Labour being antisemitic. He should be attacking the media for crying wolf over antisemitism.
      “conspiracy theories blaming Israel for 9/11”, is not antisemitic, it is anti Israeli, also, the arrest of the “Dancing Israelis” on 9/11 has never been properly explained.

    2. I joined Labour in anticipation of a Mr Corbyn led government reversing immense harm done to societal fabric by neo-liberalism. Mrs Thatcher, Blair, subsequent leaders began dismantling social accord introduced by the 1945 Labour government and largely accepted thereafter by the other two major political parties.. It was my expectation Mr Corbyn and like-minded colleagues would succeed only if Blairites were purged from office in Labour and de-selected from parliamentary seats. ‘New Labour’ must be discarded as must anachronistic elements of the pre-Blair ‘old’ Labour.

      It’s clear that a loose coalition of anti-Corbyn (read that as ‘fearful of Corbyn’) people seek common cause through defaming him. These appear to be drawn from a host of neo-liberal interests (in the UK and beyond) and are joined by on-the-make remnants of ‘New Labour’.

      That ‘antisemitism’ is raised, at least with partial effect as distraction from discussing issues dividing Britain (NI exists in its own little universe), is indictment of some generations of dumbed-down education, intervention by manipulative news media, and sign of desperation.

      Mr Corbyn should have shrugged off the nonsense accusations as soon as they were raised and refused to engage in discussion. The matter would soon have been forgotten as his enemies sought other ‘dirt’ to chuck. Unfortunately, by engaging he has given inadvertent acknowledgement of there being a ‘problem’. Put differently, Mr Corbyn has given substance to wishful thinking harboured by his base enemies much as a fake spirit-medium conjures up ectoplasm.

      On receipt of Mr Corbyn’s email I was puzzled and somewhat affronted. I don’t take kindly to be told what I may or may not believe and say. I don’t want a list of proscribed topics derived from an external pressure group.

      Antisemitism is an example of what nowadays is called ‘racism’. Racism is a statistical solecism arising from identifying/stereotyping a population, social group, ‘race’, and whatever else you might, through virtue of an average characteristic or a maliciously assigned slur made applicable to all (despite its basis being justified for none or only for some).

      ‘Antisemitism’ has at the hands of zealots been rendered an almost worthless description of thought and behaviour. If Mr Corbyn is antisemitic then I proudly am too. Nobody shall oblige me to drop out of discussion or apologise because an ignorant/malicious person accuses me of antisemitism. Members of the Labour Party must forego ‘touchy feely’ sentiment and robustly dismiss fools and the malevolent.

      If I were a Blairite, or other, seeking decapitation of Labour I would now demand all members be required to sign a declaration of faith in support of Labour’s recent interpretations and obsessions concerning ‘racism’, anti-semitism, all matters LBQTxyz, ‘gender (whatever that term nowadays means outside context of Latinate languages) awareness in schools’, and many more minority fixations which together don’t gather a majority of electoral support. Beware Mr Corbyn of troublemakers in Labour’s midst and don’t allow your ill-judged email to lead onto electorally disastrous nonsense.

      Instead unite as much of the population as possible behind a programme of deep economic and social reform. Let your government be remembered as a landmark like that of 1945.

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