What is Jeremy Corbyn telling us when he breaks unleavened bread with Jewdas?

Mr Corbyn's tone-deaf choice of Seder companions is telling, says JC editor Stephen Pollard

April 03, 2018 08:46

Jewdas is not to my taste. I find its sneering towards anyone it disagrees with objectionable and its sense of moral superiority ludicrous. And the feeling is clearly mutual; last week it described me as a “non-Jew” because I take a different view to it on most issues.

But what I think of Jewdas is of no significance. It doesn’t need my approval nor should it.

And those who support it, even when it calls Israel “a steaming pile of sewage which needs to be properly disposed of”, are – you really don’t need me to say this - as entitled to their view as the rest of us.

In this context, it’s important to recognise that the significance of last night’s revelation that Jeremy Corbyn’s first public engagement with British Jews since last week’s ‘Enough Is Enough’ demonstration was to take part in Jewdas’s ‘third Seder’ has nothing to do with whether Jewdas are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ Jews – a revolting concept.

It’s not even anything to do, really, with whether or not Jewdas is a ‘fringe’ organisation. It may well be representative only of itself – but that is to miss the point.

Because the real point is specific and limited – and all the more important for that.

It is that at the very time when Jeremy Corbyn is claiming to be “an ally” in the fight against antisemitism, when he is issuing finely worded statements about his commitment to that fight, the one group he chooses to endorse by his presence just days after the mainstream Jewish community protested about his refusal to take antisemitism seriously is the group that last week issued a statement dismissing the idea that there is any serious issue around antisemitism in the Labour Party.

And which angrily attacked those who are concerned as double-dealers who push smears to attack Corbyn for no reason other than base politics. As they wrote, this is all “the work of cynical manipulations by people whose express loyalty is to the Conservative Party and the right wing of the Labour Party”.

Already, the Corbynites are pushing the idea that this is much ado about nothing. The official line is that he was on a private visit meeting friends in his constituency.

Again, he is entitled to have dinner with whoever he wishes.

But he isn’t just anyone. He is no longer an insignificant backbencher. He is Leader of the Labour Party – at a time when his party is, by his own admission, facing serious questions over antisemitism and its dealings with the Jewish community.

Which means that who he chooses to meet and when he chooses to meet them is and should always be of intense interest and significance. And so his decision to break unleavened bread with a group that has made a loud and angry attack on the mainstream community’s concerns about Labour antisemitism is of deep concern.

The idea that this was just ‘Jeremy’ having a pleasant evening out with friends relies for credibility on him being so catastrophically stupid that he cannot see the significance of his behaviour. 

This is of course a pattern to his excuses. He didn’t see. He was unaware. He didn’t know. It’s always variations on that theme, and they are always and obviously sophistry. 

Mr Corbyn knew exactly what he was doing last night. And we should draw our own conclusion about his good faith in claiming to be an ally in the fight about antisemitism within his own party.

Read more: Just what is Jewdas?

April 03, 2018 08:46

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