Corbyn should not have been asked to light the Chanukiah

Miriam Shaviv argues that the Labour leader should not be invited at all to Jewish community events.

December 20, 2017 18:44

Every politician pays tribute to the Jewish community during Chanukah. It’s an easy way to score political points.

Theresa May puts a Chanukiah in the window of 10 Downing Street and sends us a hearty official message. Donald Trump hosts a Chanukah party featuring his three Jewish grandchildren. And Jeremy Corbyn addresses the 250-strong crowd at Islington Chabad’s lighting-up ceremony.

Lovely gestures, all. But Jeremy Corbyn should not be allowed to make his. He should not be invited at all to Jewish community events, which give him a cover of respectability he does not deserve.

True, Trump is no friend to the Jews — he cares only about himself. But Corbyn has proven again and again that he is a clear and present danger. At very best, he is an enabler of antisemitism in his party, and at worst a fellow traveller to Jew-haters in Labour and a “friend” to terror groups seeking to physically harm Jews.

The result is to undermine the security of Jews in this country. Last week, the JC front page lamented the “steady stream of stories of blatant and unashamed antisemitism” that have now become mainstream in today’s Britain.

Many Jews feel that this new norm — so unthinkable a few short years ago — is directly related to the tone set by the leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition. By turning a blind eye to antisemitic comments coming from within his party again and again, Corbyn has turned antisemitism into legitimate public discourse.

Turning up to Chanukah parties and posing for selfies with the participants even as he accomplishes all of the above is the very definition of chutzpah. Yet the man himself doesn’t believe he is an antisemite — apparently because of his anti-racist credentials he can’t be one — so let’s set aside for a moment his motivations.

Why was he invited?

According to Rabbi Mendy Korer of Chabad of Islington, Corbyn, his local MP, “gets involved in other events to learn how he can assist the needs of the local community. I have a positive relationship with him.”

Perhaps this is just the naivety of a young local rabbi. Or perhaps it is quite the opposite, a form of power play.

Chabad has an unfortunate reputation, internationally, for being willing to cosy up to unsavoury and unpleasant people in power when they believe it is in their interests. Witness Chabad’s close relationship with the authoritarian Vladimir Putin.

In addition, Chabad likes to present itself as an independent voice within the Jewish community, which operates outside the established communal bodies and organisations and is an alternative address.

Either way, it should not happen.

Each time Corbyn gets his photo op with a Jewish audience he gets to pretend that his clash with the Jewish community is nothing more than a polite disagreement.

He gets cover to claim that his party does not really have a problem with antisemitism — look, I light Chanukah candles! We’re all friends! Even more so when he gets a picture with photogenic rabbis in big black hats, who too many people imagine are the “authentic” representatives of the community.

And he gets to position himself as a regular, mainstream politician, instead of a figure of the far-left who is slowly but surely threatening Jewish life in this country.

There are, of course, some Jewish organisations that have a legitimate reason to continue interacting and engaging with Jeremy Corbyn.

The Jewish Labour Movement, which hosted Corbyn at its own Chanukah reception, is affiliated to the Labour Party, while the Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council are the community’s official representatives, responsible for dialogue with Government and Opposition. They interact with the Labour Party on a political basis.

The rest of the community should steer clear and decline to offer Jeremy Corbyn any hospitality.

The Chabad movement may often be highly political but, nevertheless, it is a religious organisation, which has no place helping to whitewash Corbyn’s antisemitism problem.

Rabbi Korer should have known better but instead he played Corbyn’s useful idiot. And he turned the rest of the community into useful idiots, too.

December 20, 2017 18:44

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