When the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog splashed their story about Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn attending a Seder hosted by a group called Jewdas, they must have thought they had hit the jackpot. Mainstream media outlets cited them as a real and authoritative source. Some Labour MPs and Jewish groups raced to condemn both Jezza and Jewdas. Then came reality.
Claims of anti-Semitism did not sit well with the fact that Jewdas are a group of observant, although also radical, Jews. MPs like John Woodcock, now effectively semi-detached from the Labour Party, lecturing on good Jews and bad Jews showed not only an inability to research and learn before shooting off mouth, but was also in itself anti-Semitic. Calling attendance at a Jewish gathering anti-Semitic was to many simply baffling.
Jewdas were given a platform by the Guardian, where the group put it directly: “As a radical Jewish collective, we were delighted Corbyn came to our seder. To claim we are not ‘real’ Jews is offensive and antisemitic”. There was more.
“Many young Jews have told us that without our activities they would have left Judaism altogether, dismayed by strands in the Jewish world which grow ever more rightwing, closed-minded, and nationalistic … We are one chain in a long historical tradition of radical Judaism, both in Britain and abroad. We particularly celebrate the heritage of the Jewish Labour Bund, the great Jewish socialist organisation”. And more.
“We have grown used to being smeared as self-hating Jews. But labelling us a source of ‘virulent antisemitism’ as the Board of Deputies leader, Jonathan Arkush, did today is seriously scraping the barrel. The truth is, we love Judaism and Jewish culture, as every one of our events demonstrate. The idea that there is a ‘mainstream Jewish community’ is a fiction, promoted by a group of self-selecting individuals and institutions who have run out of ideas”. Did Corbyn’s critics research Jewdas? To their shame, they did not.
One of those at the Seder has contributed a piece for Vice, telling “Someone who was not invited to the party decided to blog about it, and over the past 30-something hours I've had the strange experience of watching my small, niche, slightly notorious community become headline news”. And then came the really bad news for the Fawkes massive.
Behold the being who sits in judgment on Jezza
“I gotta say: thanks, Guido Fawkes infiltrator. Seeing our Twitter followers triple overnight was pretty fun. Not to mention the donations that are pouring into our Paypal and the thousands of people from all over the political spectrum who are defending and thanking us on social media - including people in the ‘mainstream Jewish community’, that mysterious entity we're apparently at odds with”. And it got worse.
At the end of March, the Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council had no interest in meeting the Labour leader, as the Independent made clear: “Jewish community leaders have rejected Jeremy Corbyn's request for an ‘urgent meeting’ to discuss antisemitism until he agrees to their preconditions”.
But by Wednesday of this week, the Guardian reported that “Two main Jewish organisations accept Labour leader’s offer of ‘without preconditions’ meeting”.
Far from driving a wedge between the Labour leadership and Jewish organisations, Jezza’s meeting with Jewdas has clearly set in train a process of healing, one of dialogue and understanding - exactly what The Great Guido was trying to prevent.
And the last word has to go to Hannah Gold, who wrote that piece for Vice: “This year we booked a church hall in Islington, and a friend invited a local Labour MP to join us. His name is Jeremy, but you can call him the next Prime Minister of the UK if you like”.
The Fawkes rabble sought to make Jeremy Corbyn a stench in the nostrils of the Jewish community. Instead, their clumsy and dishonest campaign has blown up in their smug, sneering, over-fed and overprivileged faces. Another fine mess, once again.