A Minister for Jews? It's a terrible idea


Who knows where the idea for a Minister for Jews came from within the Corbyn camp? Maybe it was just the ramblings of some over-enthusiastic junior staffer, desperate to rescue the saviour of the Labour Party from himself.

Maybe it was the result of long and carefully considered policy discussions after consultation with the movement.

Or, just possibly, it came pristine from the mind of the man himself.

I don’t know. But what I do know is that in the days before polling closed, I was approached by a senior adviser to Mr Corbyn over tea in Portcullis House and asked if I thought there was anything the Islington North MP could do about his “Jewish problem”.

This individual was seriously and, I believe, genuinely concerned that the campaign was failing to get to grips with the issue.

I said I thought it was very difficult. Just that day a prominent Jewish Labour donor had described Mr Corbyn to me as “the enemy”.

I explained that Mr Corbyn’s views on Hamas and Hezbollah, his apparent support for antisemitic hate preachers and appearances on Press TV, the Iranian state’s propaganda channel, made many Jewish people suspicious.

“What if he had a Minister for Jews,” said my source. “That’s the latest thinking.” I almost spat out my tea. “You have to be joking,” I said. “That is a really terrible idea. It sounds like something from Nazi Germany.”

It was outlined to me that the team around Mr Corbyn recognised that there was a problem of perception and that the ministerial post would help reassure the Jewish community that Mr Corbyn meant them no harm.

I assumed the idea had gone no further until I read a report in the Sun this week that the new Labour leader had actually been planning to create the post.

Naturally, the instinct of the left is to brand anything the Murdoch press writes as a lie but the reasoning as outlined to the Sun’s political editor was exactly as it had been outlined to me: “Jeremy is not antisemitic in any way, but he knows his former associations have been problematic. He wants to solve this, and a position for Jewish people and minorities is a good way to do that.”

Similar suggestions of a special ministerial post had also been reported to the JC and were published last weekend.

Rebuttals from the Labour Party came swiftly as the machine took over the press operation from Team Corbyn.
Wise heads clearly prevailed and the spinners quickly scotched the ludicrous idea that Britain’s Jews needed a minister specially for them.

We are still in messiah mode with Jeremy Corbyn. For his supporters, everything he does is simply inspired. His chaotic organisation is interpreted as a refreshing change; the refusal to answer legitimate questions from a Sky journalist is seen as a cunning silent protest against the Murdoch empire.

But his casual attitude towards authoritarian regimes and terrorist organisations with a murderous record of antisemitism is not explained away so easily.

The Minister for Jews idea was never the answer and, thankfully, it is now dead.

Instead, the Corbyn shadow cabinet now has a Jewish minister in the person of Luciana Berger. She will have to be careful not to give the new Labour leader cover and thus become the Minister for Jews by default.

As a former director of Labour Friends of Israel, Ms Berger is also a proud Zionist. It will be interesting to see how she responds when Labour policy on the Israel-Palestine conflict is discussed in shadow cabinet.

The most generous gloss to put on the Minister for Jews idea is that an increasingly frustrated Team Corbyn naively suggested a misguided strategy they hoped would appease the Jewish community.

Mr Corbyn himself has yet to show that he cares enough even to engage.

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