I must admit I feel a bit sorry for Jeremy Corbyn. He seems to have some dodgy acquaintances, but as far as I know there’s no evidence that he himself has ever been anti-semitic.
Having said that, I don’t think it’s enough for him not to be anti-semitic. It’s fine for somebody like me to be judged on what I say and do, but the only person I’m representing is myself. Corbyn, however, is representing thousands of people. So I think he needs to go one step further.
This then begs the question, what more should he do? Unfortunately I’m not sure there’s an awful lot he can do, except try to ride this out. I know there was a kerfuffle a few weeks ago about Labour not adopting the same definition of anti-semitism as pretty much everyone else. I think this was dumb, even if, as they argue, their version was better.
But in the last few days, I’m sure I read a story about an allegation that a Labour councillor had called for Jews to be….was it executed? Even if this was meant as a joke, it is pretty way-out. In the actual story, Labour seems to have done the right thing by suspending this councillor, but of course it must be very worrying for a political party that this person was representing you in the first place. Poor old Corbyn can affect the present, in terms of selection, maybe he will also affect the future, but he can’t really control the past, the people already there. And presumably this person was allowed to be a Labour councillor before their views on this subject became known. That’s why I think Corbyn needs to just do the right thing in terms of disciplinary procedures, and ride the allegations out.
I must admit to having a personal interest in this story, as my mother-in-law came to the UK as part of the Kinder Transport, in 1939. She was born in Belgium, and those members of the family who stayed behind didn’t survive. As a result my wife has very few family members on her mother’s side. I can totally buy that there must be a mechanism which allows somebody to criticise a state (Israel) without it being seen as criticism a religion (Judaism), but the flip side is that we all have a right to exist. It worries me when I hear people like Ken Loach (a film-maker whose material I generally like very much) talking about history being a matter of opinion, which appears to support holocaust-denial. Certainly for me, the holocaust was real.