Antisemitic ideas on Israel ‘rise’ among Labour voters

A new study also found classic antisemitic tropes peaked among the party's supporters in 2018


An academic study has shown that while the proportion of very antisemitic Labour voters has fallen from a peak in 2018, a belief in ‘new’ antisemitic ideas about Israel appears be on the rise among supporters of the party.

The study by Daniel Allington, a senior lecturer at the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College London, is one of three peer-reviewed reports on the Corbyn years published by the Journal of Contemporary Antisemitism.

Dr Allington’s report takes a statistical look at antisemitism using data collected by the Campaign Against Antisemitism. The CAA has been commissioning representative surveys of classic antisemitic attitudes for six years, using the same standard questions for the last five.

The study found that from 2016, belief in classic antisemitic tropes stayed mostly flat among Conservative voters, declined among Liberal Democrat voters, and rose dramatically among Labour voters, reaching a peak in 2018.

Today, the proportion of very antisemitic Labour voters has fallen, but remains higher than in 2016 — while belief in ‘new’ antisemitic ideas about Israel appears to be on the rise.

The proportion of Labour voters agreeing with four or more antisemitic statements about Israel and its supporters rose from 11 per cent in 2019 to 16 per cent in 2020.

More detailed analysis will be published by the CAA in the next few weeks.

Dr Allington said: “2018 was the year when Jeremy Corbyn’s record was really brought before the public eye – and it also saw repeated demonstrations organised by Campaign Against Antisemitism and other communal organisations. It stands to reason that these may have impacted ordinary voters’ perceptions of antisemitism, and helped to turn the tide. But this relates to the ‘classic’ antisemitism usually associated with the political right. The data don’t show the same change with regard to anti-Zionist antisemitism, which has only been measured since 2019. If anything, the figures suggest that tide has continued to rise.”

Another study in the collection is by Dave Rich, director of policy at the Community Security Trust, author of The Left’s Jewish Problem, and an associate research fellow at the Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism.

Dr Rich provides an analysis  of the vast report on antisemitism commissioned by the outgoing Labour leadership and subsequently leaked online.

Dr Rich says in his report, “every claim made by campaigners and Jewish community activists over the five years of Corbyn’s leadership … is validated by [the Corbyn allies’] report”.

In a third study, Matt Bolton, an associate lecturer in Politics and Philosophy at the University of Chichester and the co-author of Corbynism: A Critical Approach, argues that many left-wing intellectuals have been “willing to abandon any commitment to historical truth, analytical consistency, or intellectual integrity” in their “desperation to defend Corbyn and the movement behind him” against the charge of antisemitism.

As Dr Bolton shows, some Corbyn-supporting intellectuals have attempted to raise “the bar for antisemitism … to such a height that all but the most brazen neo-Nazis pass under it”, while one has argued that it is “plain common sense” to believe in classic antisemitic stereotypes, suggesting that they are “neither antisemitic, nor stereotypes — but rather statements of fact”.

Thanks to the Journal of Contemporary Antisemitism’s donors, including Bicom co-chair David Cohen, the three studies are free to read online.

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