Welcome To Zelo Street!

This is a blog of liberal stance and independent mind

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Labour And The Chief Rabbi

While the irony may not be lost on many pundits, with the Murdoch Times, whose ultimate owner had a most unfortunate recent rant at the “Jewish owned press”, and the Daily Mail, whose record in the 1930s, and indeed recently with its “Disloyal Jew” attacks on the memory of Ed Miliband’s father, running the story, the intervention in the General Election campaign of the Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, is significant and not to be taken lightly.
Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis ((c) BBC)

As the BBC has reported, “In his article, the Orthodox chief rabbi of Great Britain and Northern Ireland - who is the spiritual leader of the United Synagogue, the largest umbrella group of Jewish communities in the country - says raising his concerns 'ranks among the most painful moments I have experienced since taking office’ … But he claims ‘the overwhelming majority of British Jews are gripped by anxiety’ at the prospect of a Labour victory in 12 December's general election”. And there is more.

He has told “The way in which the leadership of the Labour Party has dealt with anti-Jewish racism is incompatible with the British values of which we are so proud - of dignity and respect for all people … It has left many decent Labour members and parliamentarians, both Jewish and non-Jewish, ashamed of what has transpired”.
It is possible to disagree with the Chief Rabbi. But it is totally out of order to dismiss his concerns. Yes, the Jewish Labour Movement has called Rabbi Mirvis “absolutely right”, and they are consistently hostile to Labour’s current leadership, but that does not invalidate the feeling among some Jewish voices that Labour still has a problem.

Yes, Labour has been suspending and indeed expelling members accused of anti-Semitism. The party has adopted the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism throughout, something that other parties - hello Tories - have been ambiguous about recently. Labour alone among the major parties has put in place an education programme on anti-Semitism. And we know other parties have crossed the anti-Semitism line recently.
It was the Tories who lost a candidate over anti-Semitism accusations (Aberdeen North), and the same party has had some serious recent lapses, notably Suella Braverman and her “Cultural Marxism” attack, Michael Gove conflating Jews and Israel, Priti Patel talking about a “North London Metropolitan Elite”, and Jacob Rees Mogg dragging up an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory to attack Oliver Letwin and John Bercow.

All that is true. But it is no reason to be defensive or dismissive of the Chief Rabbi. His concerns should be the concerns of all Labour members. As Sunny Hundal has observed, “I think Labour should have done far more to assuage concerns of Jewish leaders than dismiss them … Labour activists who are responding by attacking the Chief Rabbi are not helping their cause. Empathy wins people over, not vindictiveness”.
And Owen Jones was on the same page. “The correct response isn't to attack the Chief Rabbi, it's to acknowledge the hurt of many Jews, to say Labour handled the issue badly, that it's improved but there's more to do, and to urge consistent anti-racism, including opposing the gratuitous racism of our government”. Quite.

Labour must take the concerns of the Chief Rabbi on board. That is all.
Enjoy your visit to Zelo Street? You can help this truly independent blog carry on talking truth to power, while retaining its sense of humour, by adding to its Just Giving page at

17 comments:

Disappointed of Golders Green said...

You are wrong.I've got annoyed Corbyn hasn't been more active and I believe his tactic was to ignore his critics but I think he is in a no-win situation and whatever he says will be twisted beyond all belief. The Chief Rabbi has made no offer or attempt to work with Labour if he really believes this is a problem and to accept his statement as fact is falling into a trap. This IS emotional blackmail. His carefully planned statement at a crucial time- after doing sod all over the past 2 years (and ignoring the vile Miliband attacks) if he believes there are Jews who are concerned demonstrates he has no real concern about those he alleges he cares for. And his friendship with a blatant and vocal racist Boris Johnson shames him.
Frankly the losers out of this election will be the Jewish community.I'm pretty sure the vile Tories & Johnson will win. And among the 12-14 million who may vote for a losing Labour there are bound to be some pretty vile racists and antisemites who will decide- if in the fallout "antisemitism in Labour" is concluded as a factor- that Britain's Jews should be punished.
Why some pundits seem to think playing fair with Britain's largely Fascist media including the BBC and a powerful handful of Fascist supporting so-called "Jewish leaders" reminds me of women who keep going back to their abusive husbands,
If Labour loses in December it's basically all over forever for a fair Britain, This is a once in a life-time election and there will be no going back and everyone who played a small role in bringing that about will be condemned and that includes a largely insular and silent Jewish community- 95% who have never experienced antisemitism in a personal sense. But they will.
And Owen Jones? He may write and talk well but he's called so many mistakes over the years from his safe berth at the increasingly right wing Guardian as a token lefty he can be ignored.
Actually British Jews are lucky- they have another country they can move to and good for them. 14 million Brits living in poverty don't have that choice and I'm beginning to become (as a Jew) very disappointed with the awful insular and inward selfishness being expressed by many of them over a false campaign. I am yet to hear one so-called "Jewish community leader" express a single frigging concern for those suffering under austerity. One of the great tenets of being a Jew is to always be on the side of the oppressed but I see none of that. And it matters.

Anonymous said...

Full agreement from me, Tim. LP hasn't moved hard or fast enough against the 450 members (LP claim a 0.1% problem) who have caused the issue. Own Jones has admitted as much this lunchtime.

But it's the timing, mate. The timing. Halfway through a GE campaign. The chief rabbi could have raised concerns 4 weeks ago and they wouldn't have been any less valid.

Put that with claims made today that the CR appears to enjoy a warm relationship with Bozo and - yeah - I'm just a tad suspicious.

Gerry said...

It seems that the rabbi was Israel’s man in Ireland . Could that influence his view?

Anonymous said...

Certainly "...the intervention in the General Election campaign of the Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis..." should not "...be taken lightly." But NOT for the reasons you place, Tim - to do so is to fall hook, line and sinker for the hate propaganda levelled against a good and decent man, Jeremy Corbyn. Nor is that all.

Mirvis could have made this a general attack on all racism and antisemitism and done so quite legitimately. He could have pointed out it even occurred in a Labour Party whose very founding was based on fighting this kind of poison. Instead he chose to turn it into an attack based on a wicked and evil lie, a mendacious fiction if you like, that Jeremy Corbyn has not only essentially ignored a problem but propagated it and made it worse. I say Mirvis has done this wilfully and with full knowledge that it isn't true. Which makes him a liar as bad as anything produced by the tories, whose own dyed-in-the-wool racism he also ignored. Which in turn makes his words a dishonest political "intervention".

Mirvis's motivation is a matter for him. But nobody in full possession of the facts is going to allow this to go unchallenged. His behaviour is merely another element in a far right orchestrated propaganda lie. It is a shameful and untrue assault unworthy of the role he is supposed to perform.

It is a disgusting act for which I hope his god may forgive him.

Anonymous said...

THINGS EPHRAIM MIRVIS DOESN'T WANT YOU TO KNOW (1):

1. Last year, a widely-endorsed 2018 academic report found ninety-five serious reporting failures in the reporting of the Labour Antisemitism story with the worst offenders The Sun, the Mail & the BBC.
2. On 28 February 2016, five months after becoming leader, Jeremy Corbyn appointed Baroness Royall to investigate antisemitism at Oxford University Labour Club.
3. On 27 April 2016 Corbyn suspended an MP pending an investigation into antisemitism.
4. A day later, Corbyn suspended the three times Mayor of London after complaints of antisemitic comments.
5. On 29 April 2016, Corbyn launched an inquiry into the prevalence of antisemitism in the Labour Party. In spite of later changes in how the inquiry was reported, it was initially praised by Jewish community organisations.
6. In Corbyn’s first seven months as leader of the Labour Party, just ten complaints were received about antisemitism. 90% of those were suspended from the Labour Party within 24 hours.
7. In September 2017, Corbyn backed a motion at Labour’s annual conference introducing a new set of rules regarding antisemitism.
8. In the six months that followed the introduction of the new code of conduct, to March 2018, 94% of the fifty-four people accused of antisemitism remained suspended or barred from Labour Party membership. Three of the fifty-four were exonerated.
9. When Jennie Formby became general secretary of the party last year, she appointed a highly-qualified in-house Counsel, as recommended in the Chakrabarti Report.
10. In 2018, Labour almost doubled the size of its staff team handling investigations and dispute processes.
11. Last year, to speed up the handling of antisemitism cases, smaller panels of 3-5 NEC members were established to enable cases to be heard more quickly.
12. Since 2018, every complaint made about antisemitism is allocated its own independent specialist barrister to ensure due process is followed.
13. The entire backlog of cases outstanding upon Jennie Formby becoming General Secretary of the Labour Party was cleared within 6 months of Jennie taking up her post.
14. Since September 2018, Labour has doubled the size of its National Constitutional Committee (NCC) – its senior disciplinary panel – from 11 to 25 members to enable it to process cases more quickly.
15. Under Formby and Labour’s left-run NEC, NCC arranged elections at short notice to ensure the NCC reached its new full capacity without delay.
16. Since later 2018, the NCC routinely convenes a greater number of hearing panels to allow cases to be heard and finalised without delay.
17. In 2018, the NEC established a ‘Procedures Working Group’ to lead reforms in the way disciplinary cases are handled.
18. The NEC adopted the IHRA working definition of antisemitism and all eleven examples of antisemitism attached to it.
19. A rule change agreed at Conference in 2018 means that all serious complaints, including antisemitism, are dealt with nationally to ensure consistency.
20. Last year, Jennie Formby wrote to the admins and moderators of Facebook groups about how they can effectively moderate online spaces and requested that any discriminatory content be reported to the Labour Party for investigation.
21. Since last year, no one outside Labour’s Governance and Legal Unit can be involved in decision-making on antisemitism investigations. This independence allows decisions free from political influence to be taken.
22. Corbyn has already received extensive support from Orthodox Jewish leaders. Thirty-four leading rabbis signed a letter praising Labour’s “respected leader” and describing attacks on him as “irresponsible”. The letter was attacked as a fake by Corbyn’s critics, who were later forced to withdraw the claim when evidence was revealed by the SKWAWKBOX that they were aware of its authenticity. A letter by Jewish citizens published by the Sunday Times was similarly attacked.

Anonymous said...

Oh REALLY, mister Mirvis?
https://www.facebook.com/ChiefRabbiMirvis/posts/i-am-delighted-to-congratulate-boris-johnson-a-longstanding-friend-and-champion-/2204811272981328/

Anonymous said...

I think you're right Tim. Good points, we'll made.

A few too many people playing the man and not the ball today.

Anonymous said...

"Understand this, please: this so-called "chief rabbi" slanders jeremy Corbyn on behalf of LESS than 20% of British jews. Many of us, indeed most in my judgement, want #CorbynByChanukah 🙂#Jews4Jeremy pic.twitter.com/yPhRb1UjLi"
— 'Mbassie News Cat – One Tiny Mew ⏳ (@DeinhardtTimea) November 26, 2019

"I am Jewish. Chief Rabbi Mirvis does not speak for me nor for many other Jews. I support Corbyn whom I consider is eminently fit for high office. By contrast, I think Johnson is a lying racist who demeans the high office he holds https://t.co/8PqS2fu88t"
— Tom London (@TomLondon6) November 25, 2019

"As a Jew whose great grandparents fled the persecution of Jews in Russia during the late 19th Century to UK, I would also like to say that #Corbyn is my choice in this election and the greatest hope we’ve had to build a better future in my lifetime #Jews4Jeremy #VoteLabour https://t.co/8LF7P1YlQ5"
— James Breen (@breenjam) November 26, 2019

"I lost many of my family in the camps but it is this enabling of the re emerging far right by pointing the finger at a life long anti racist that 'grips me with anxiety' #Jews4Jeremy"
— Anothermouse #VoteLabour #GTTO (@AlexisTwolf) November 26, 2019.

James said...

I disagree, the Chief Rabbi it has subsequent been revealed has form of defending Israel and its actions. In turn he has offered support to Mr Johnson, what does that say ? Antisemitism is Bad, being a sexist, bigoted, elitist criminal is fine..

Owen Jones...once a time ago I admired him. Now I think he is a hyprocritical, self-serving shrill who loves the sound of his own voice. Owen wants to give the impression of supporting Labour, of being a journalist with integrity.... Where was Owen last week regarding the Rachel Riley incident ? He himself, has had dealings with madame on twitter and you think that her and Tracey Ann Obermann's behaviour would make a interesting scoop for a journalist, they engage in smears and encourage harassment of Corbyn and labour supporters. In addition, if Owen is so hot on issues where was his criticism of Jonathan Freeland the week before, a cynical man who is keen to encourage the antisemitism smeer by encouraging belief if one muslim is bigoted then they must be the muslim labour candidate ? Where was Owen's outrage ? With friends like this labour doesn't need enemies...

Burlington Bertie from Bow said...

Thanks for that, D of GG.

I was thinking earlier that people like Pollard and the rabbi, by their calculatedly anti-Labour utterances over the last few months, must have contributed more to people's resentment of some parts of the Jewish community in the UK than Farage, Griffin, Webster and the rest of those scumbags could ever have dreamt of achieving.

John Smith said...

Bollocks, the chief Rabbi should be treated like all lying politicians, with comtempt.

How many times does this need saying, its unevidenced bullshit and is designed to paint a good man as a monster.

The fact that you and Owen Jones think this man should be treated with kid gloves shows that you don't understand how much of an existential danger to our democracy Israel is.

Never used to have an opinion on Israel, I do now, Jewish people are being hurt by this as much as Jeremy Corbyn is.

The Mistake you are making is believing that any of these people actually care about Jewish people, what they care about is Israel, and their ability to run an apartheid state without criticism.

I know yuou are trying to be reasonable and compassionate, but this is not the time or place, to give succor to people who have only one agenda, and that agenda has nothing to do with Jeewish peoples welfare, indeed Rabbi Mirvis would happily throw every single one of them under the bus if he thought it would help his "close friend" win the election

Facts not emotion, The labour party will never do enough for the Rabbi and his ilk, and I personally am done apologising for something that never happened.

Anonymous said...

"I would like to thank Donald Trump on his victory.
After a divisive campaign I hope that Mr Trump will
move to build bridges and ensure that America's standing as a
beacon of progress tolerance and free thinking remain strong."
Jonathan Arkush.
November 9th. 2016.

Alan said...

Afraid I agree that it's a mistake to be soft on Mirvis.

See this article, mainly about his predecessor, the equally lovable Jonathan Sacks, but with a hat-tip to Mirvis with regard to the provocative ultra-Zionist "March of the Flags" - https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/you-were-never-my-chief-rabbi-bruv

Also this, more specifically about Mirvis and the same event - https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/chief-rabbi-and-lord-sacks-should-not-back-this-march/

Note that the authors of both articles are Jews.

LiamKav said...

There's two separate points here.
1. Is the Chief Rabbi following an agenda?
2. Are any of the antisemetic comments made about Labour true?

People are wrapping them together. Because they answer "yes" to 1 they dismiss 2 out of hand. It comes across as dismissive. Rather than alleviating fears it makes it look like they are being ignored and lets the accusations fester.

Anonymous said...

@ 14:10.

Wrong.

The issue is whether antisemitism and racism is being placed in an honest context in society and ALL political parties.

Plainly Mirvis hasn't done that, nor have corporate media. But no surprise there since they're all lying tories, Mirvis included. They never fail to live down to their reputation.

Hope this helps.

LiamKav said...

@17:07

I'm curious. Has your approach of telling people that they're wrong and calling everyone that doesn't share your political alignment "spivs" and "far-right" ever worked to convince anyone?

Anonymous said...

@ 17:47.

I'm even more curious: Since you are never concerned with truth or facts on public record have you ever considered applying for a post at Murdoch's Slimes or Murdoch's Scum or the Rothermere Heil or the BBC "News and politics" faction? You apparently share their massive disconnection with reality - which should give your application a flying start.

Have a "nice" right wing day. Or something.