Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

The Chakrabarti report failed, again and again

    On Monday, Shami Chakrabarti showed that she was not neutral between those who fight antisemitism in the Labour Party and those who angrily deny its significance. When Jeremy Corbyn appeared before the select committee to be grilled on antisemitism, Ms Chakrabarti sat behind him, as if she were his lawyer. Twice she was scolded by the chair for prompting him.

    Ms Chakrabarti, on the issue of antisemitism, is on Team Corbyn.

    Mr Corbyn slithered around questions; he answered questions which were not asked; he feigned ignorance and naivety; he replied to specific questions with rambling and platitudes.

    The charge is simple. It is that a culture of visceral hostility to Israel has been moving into the mainstream of the left. Campaigns to delegitimise Israel, to portray it as a central source of racism and oppression, to say it is like Nazism and apartheid, have been successful. The leader of the Labour Party says that Hamas is dedicated to peace and justice. He, and many others, support the campaign to exclude Israelis from the global economic, scholarly and artistic community.

    The key thing that Ms Chakrabarti needed to show was how the incidents of explicit antisemitism which triggered the inquiry were related to this underlying culture of hostility to Israel and to the Jews who are assumed to support it. She did not do this. She failed to describe or define antisemitism, how it operates and what it looks like. She failed to go through the incidents, explaining why they were antisemitic. She focused on a few bad apples, not the problem with the barrel.

    For decades, Labour, union and student activists, as well as scholars, not only Jews, have made arguments and presented evidence concerning this kind of antisemitism. We have made strong, coherent, and moderate arguments; we have explained the problem. The Chakrabarti Inquiry is the latest body to look down at us over its spectacles and ignore what we say. We have experienced this inability to see what we see before; from our colleagues and comrades and from union and political leaderships.

    Jewish scholars, institutions, journalists and activists produced compelling submissions to the Chakrabarti Inquiry. The report does not engage with the key issues; it ignores them.

    Where was David Feldman, co-chair of the inquiry? Professor Feldman knows and understands the issues, no defence of naivety or ignorance is available to him. His Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism has remained scrupulously neutral between those who intellectually underpin the new antisemitism and those who oppose it.

    Jewish antisemitism-denying groups, such as Jews for Justice for Palestinians and Independent Jewish Voices, of which Prof Feldman is a signatory, have been influential in their efforts to undermine the strong and healthy consensus against antisemitism among Jews.

    These issues are more worrying because Britain has moved into economic and political crisis. The EU is threatened by xenophobic and racist nationalisms. Donald Trump has a chance in November. We must hold fast to democratic and rational thinking against racism; even when opposing racism is itself portrayed as bigoted.

The Jewish Chronicle

Antisemitism survey launches

Jonathan Boyd

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Antisemitism survey launches
UK News

Corbyn accused of 'backtracking' over antisemitism definition

Lee Harpin

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Corbyn accused of 'backtracking' over antisemitism definition
UK News

Devastated councillors abandon ‘toxic’ party

Rosa Doherty

Friday, March 23, 2018

Devastated councillors abandon ‘toxic’ party
UK News

'Jewish voters misunderstood me', says Ken

Alastair Thomas

Friday, May 4, 2018

'Jewish voters misunderstood me', says Ken
Comment

We will not allow Jewish voices to be drowned out by hate

Andrea Leadsom

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

We will not allow Jewish voices to be drowned out by hate
UK News

Labour MPs attend event organised by activists facing antisemitism claims

Marcus Dysch

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Labour MPs attend event organised by activists facing antisemitism claims
UK News

Labour loses to Conservatives in Barnet

Lee Harpin

Friday, May 4, 2018

Labour loses to Conservatives in Barnet
UK News

JVL founder plays down abuse of Jewish MPs

Lee Harpin

Friday, April 20, 2018

JVL founder plays down abuse of Jewish MPs
Columnists

Shame those who spread prejudice

Melanie Phillips

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Shame those who spread prejudice