While attacks on the Labour leadership over allegations of anti-Semitism have ebbed and flowed over the past two or three years, one aspect of them has been constant - that organisations representing Jews in Britain have stood shoulder to shoulder, making common cause against Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and keeping well away from any dispute which might expose differences between them. Until yesterday.
The act which provoked a most unseemly falling out was a letter from Marie van der Zyl, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, to the Labour Party. This has incurred the displeasure of Stephen “Vicky” Pollard, editor of the Jewish Chronicle, who has gone after the BoD in no style at all for daring to engage with the Rotten Lefties™.
After claiming “Other than the tiny number of members of the Corbynite propaganda group JVL, the entire Jewish community is united in the goal of ensuring that the antisemites who now run the Labour Party are defeated” - no citation, and nor will there be - Pollard warned “As the crisis has developed … it is clear that one of those two bodies (BoD and Jewish Leadership Council) does not understand what is actually going on and how to confront it”.
What’s his problem? “The Board has repeatedly misunderstood how Labour should be approached. Infamously, it offered a platform at its Chanukah party to a senior member of the Shadow Cabinet and invited the Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry, to its annual dinner”. Pollard then calls the BoD’s approach “utterly misguided”.
Then he goes totally OTT. “As for the letter from Marie van der Zyl, the President of the Board: no one who understands what is actually going on and how to fight it could possibly send such a letter … The Board suggests a series of measures for Labour to take ‘to resolve this crisis’, as if the only problem is that Labour has somehow omitted to tick the necessary boxes to enable it to receive a hescher”. And there is more.
“In a sentence that is almost beyond belief, Ms van der Zyl singles out Labour’s ‘bland, generic statements’. Ms van der Zyl writes: ‘Labour’s media handling throughout the three and a half years of this scandal have served to exacerbate the mistrust between the Labour Party and the Jewish community and wider public alike. Bland, generic statements should give way to condemnation of specific harmful behaviours - and, where appropriate, condemnation of specific individuals.’” What’s wrong with that, Steve?
Don’t ask. “But it no longer makes the slightest difference what Labour says. Who cares? Who gives a damn about Labour’s ‘bland, generic statements’, other than for dark amusement at their repetition? What matters is not what Labour says to journalists. What matters is that it is led by racists for whom antisemitism is a political tool [no citation]”.
And he hasn’t finished. "It is close to astonishing that there are still people left in our community who have not twigged that the lesson of the past near-four years is not that Labour isn’t doing the right thing and needs to be told what to do, but rather that the party is now institutionally racist [no citation]”. Will he spontaneously combust next?
What is truly astonishing is not that Stephen Pollard is throwing a wobbler at the Board fo Deputies (and throwing around a series of potentially defamatory accusations that he cannot stand up), but that he believes (a) that his prejudice against the Labour leadership is equivalent to fact, (b) that his bombastic and abusive denunciation of Labour is the only way to proceed, and (c) that he is more important than the BoD.
And what is truly disturbing is that Pollard has decided that, whatever Corbyn and his team do, it will not be enough for the JC: “There is no more room for dialogue or engagement. These are not people with whom we can or should ever work. There is no room for good faith engagement or actions to be taken, after which we can all work together”.
That is where Pollard has let slip that whatever actions Labour takes to eradicate anti-Semitism within the party’s ranks, however robust its disciplinary systems, however many members are reprimanded or even expelled, the denunciation will just carry on.
It was never about eradicating Labour anti-Semitism. It’s about getting rid of Corbyn.
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