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The JC Comment Blog

The JC Comment Blog No.1 - The Labour Party and the Jews

In a new strand on the JC website, editor Stephen Pollard expresses his concerns at the insidious normalisation of antisemitism on the left

    Last week I wrote an article explaining my dilemma as editor of the JC: how do we grade our coverage of the unremitting series of stories of antisemitism and the Corbyn Labour Party?

    I focused on the revelation that the Labour leader had been an active member of a private Facebook group, Palestine Live, which was suffused with unambiguously antisemitic content. We chose not to put it on the front page, which some – many – readers thought a mistake.

    But the past 24 hours highlight the problem yet again.

    Here are just two of the stories that have emerged since yesterday. (There were more.)

    First, two Haringey Labour councillors spoke of the explicit antisemitism they have faced within the party.

    Cllr Joe Goldberg said: “It has become impossible to operate as a Jewish councillor in the Haringey party without having your views and actions prejudged or dismissed in terms that relate to your ethnicity.”

    Just think about that for a moment. Two elected officials of a mainstream political party say that the fact that they are Jewish means their fellow party members are prejudiced against them, and act on that prejudice in their dealings with them.

    If that isn’t front page news, what is?

    And yet it’s barely been noticed other than in the Sunday Times, which reported it, and the JC, which picked it up yesterday.

    I don’t criticise anyone for that, because you could argue it’s not even the biggest ‘Labour and the Jews’ news of the past 24 hours.

    This morning it has emerged that Jeremy Corbyn was far more than a mere acquaintance of Elleanne Green, the founder of the Palestine Live Facebook group. The Daily Mail reveals today that they enjoyed a “warm friendship” and that Mr Corbyn organised events with her, that they discussed poetry online and that she referred to having had conversations in person with him.

    Within 24 hours then, there have been two separate stories, each of which is deserving of major coverage. And I guarantee that this week, as last week, the week before that, and the week before that –etc – there will be more such stories.

    This is the dilemma I have been referring to. You can’t be equally outraged about them all. If you scream loudly at every such story then, pretty soon, no one notices you screaming at all. It’s taken for granted.

    My colleague Miriam Shaviv wrote brilliantly about this last week, pointing out that “the levels of antisemitism in politics and the public sphere which we are willing to put up with are rising.”

    Yes, these stories must all be reported and pointed out. But it’s a simple statement of fact that they can’t all receive equal weight, let alone equal outrage.

    And that, I am afraid, is precisely the poison that has been injected into our politics and public life by the Corbynites: they have made antisemitism seem so commonplace that what would once have been shocking is now met, most of the time, with barely more than a sigh.

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