It wasn’t a problem. You’ll remember that. Or, insofar as it was a problem it was a small one being exaggerated by enemies of Jeremy Corbyn. Lady Chakrabarti would sort out what difficulties there were, there’d be a suspension here, of, say, naughty Ken, a distancing there, and some political education everywhere else and we’d all get on with the business of fighting the Tories. This was what you might call the mainstream Corbynite position — the Jon Lansman, Owen Jones, not-much-to-see-move-along-but-we’re-on-your-side position.
Then that fell apart. The mural. Half the Corbynites said it wasn’t antisemitic before the other half admitted that it was. Jeremy said sorry. Then the Facebook groups. Then the discipline person on the National Executive Committee turned out to have sent an a email in support of a Holocaust denial-supporting Labour candidate (a what? Am I mad?), then says she hadn’t read the complaint against him and she’s sorry. And then she resigns. And still half the stuff people like me are seeing from grassroots Corbynistas is: “it isn’t antisemitism, you’re lying”.
But now the mainstream Corbyn people have either spotted the danger of this label sticking or are actually — as they say — suddenly apprised of the truth of the situation. It’s a terrible thing, who knew? And those groups, including the ones who turned up at the Enough Is Enough protest to counter-demonstrate and who might just as well call themselves Jews Against Talking About Antisemitism, are sadly mistaken. Furthermore, Jeremy himself is fully committed etc etc etc. So he’s going to be taking it all very seriously and meeting the Board of Deputies and the Leadership Council and listening to what the Jewish communities have to say.
And you know (and the mainstream Corbynites know), that’s all he really had to do. That and make sure Ken stays out of the party.
But he couldn’t even do that. Because his idea of a really good Jew is almost certainly Leah Levane. Ms Levane has got a voice on her. At the Labour Party conference in the autumn she represented Hastings and Rye constituency party (she is now a local candidate there) and Shouting As a Jew, condemned those complaining about Labour antisemitism. It was terrible, she yelled, somewhat incoherently, “that you can treat antisemitism and make that accusation every time you criticise the despicable behaviour of the state of Israel towards the Palestinian people”.
“Great contribution from LeahLevane —Jewish human-rights activist and my comrade,” tweeted Jackie Walker, “Our voice at last being heard.”
“Well Said LeahLevane," Tweeted a Kamel Hawwas. “Important Jewish voices speak up for Jewish Labour members against Zionist apologists for Israeli crimes.” Though that hadn’t been what she was supposed to be doing at all.
Ms Levane was once of Jews for Justice for Palestinians and is now of Jewish Voice for Labour. She claims to speak for the Jews who the other Jews don’t speak for. But the thing is that if you read all her tweets from 2013 to 2016 there is one aspect of life completely absent. There’s a lot about austerity and the NHS. There’s a lot about Gaza. In 2015, she goes mad for the Corbyn leadership campaign. Off the scale. Then in 2016 there’s some stuff about there being no antisemitism in Labour. But there is NOTHING about being Jewish at all. Nothing about Jewish life, Jewish events, Jewish holidays, Jewish history — zip. For someone who claims to represent Jews (as for example, I don’t) it is a bit of a gap.
Of course she may have done all the Jewish stuff on Facebook. I don’t know. What I do know of is that she wrote online, regarding an article titled Austria’s neo-Nazis find friends in Israel that this was “no surprise” and wrote elsewhere online that “Jews are often agents rather than instigators of exploitation.”
And it’s to a meeting with the organisation of which this person is a leading light that Jeremy Corbyn this week invited the Board and the Leadership Council to discuss the problem of antisemitism. Oh Owen Jones! Ah Jonny Lansman! Shall we next hold a round-table on racism in Britain featuring Caribbeans for the Confederacy and the Empire Asian Association? Why, ask yourselves comrades, could Jeremy not just get this one little thing right?
Because to him Leah Levane is the real thing. She is the authentic voice of what he thinks a Jew should be. He thinks a good Jew would not even really want there to be a state of Israel.
He believes the good Jews are the ones he has been mixing with all these years. He can’t help himself. And you, JC reader, sure as hell can’t help him.