Anti-Semitism in Britain

Anti-Semitism in Britain

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

As if the new head of the British Labor Party Jeremy Corbyn does not present enough problems himself for the British Jewish community to address, along comes Sir Gerald Kaufman MP, a Member of the House of Commons and Jewish Laborite from Manchester, who might even have topped Corbin in expressing blatantly anti-Semitic dribble. As Father of the House—the MP having the longest time of continuous service in the Commons—in his tenure since 1970, Kaufman has been known to say many outrageous things attacking Israeli politics or British policy towards Israel. There is no record, however, of the type of classic anti-Semitic diatribe that like Kaufman recited on Tuesday while addressing a meeting organized by the Palestine Return Centre. (This group is reported to have links to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood and is also accused of being a terrorist group in Israel.)

Kaufman attacked the Israeli Government for distorting the facts as to what was happening on the ground in Israel for the past weeks, for inflating the numbers of Jews attacking and undercounting the Palestinians. He suggested that a friend of his from East Jerusalem had confirmed that Israel had fabricated the attacks. Then Kaufman launched into an attack against Jewish support for the Conservative Party with money, that Jewish money had influenced the outcome of the recent election, that Jews control the media, and are pushing the Tories to blindly support whatever Israel does. So outrageous were Kaufman’s remarks that the Jewish Chronicle reported that the Palestine Return Centre even dis-associated itself from his remarks saying their organization was critical of Israel but not anti-Semitic.

Meanwhile, there have been few words uttered against Sir Gerald by Jeremy Corbyn and very little attention in the general media with the exception of the Independent and The Spectator. Corbyn, who has been associated himself with support of Hamas and Hezbollah and other anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian positions, but not specific anti-Semitism. As leader of the Labor Party it would behoove him to respond to such vile remarks uttered by one of his own party’s members; certainly if some Member had made remarks that reflected racial or homophobic bias he would no doubt have criticized his own party member.

What must be understood here as well is that Corbyn and Kaufman are members of the same Labor Party which only recently had been led by Tony Blair and George Brown, both of whom were strong supporters of Israel.  Corbyn in particular represents a very serious challenge to Jewish and pro-Israel friends who could find themselves very compromised should Corbyn’s leadership of Labor begin seriously to challenge the Conservatives in the months and years ahead.

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