British Public Figures Call Jeremy Corbyn an Anti-Semite
24 influential Brits have taken a stand not to support the anti-Semitic politician, despite the political costs.
In a few weeks, Britons will go to the polls and choose who will lead them at this crucial time. It’s one of the more consequential votes in British history.
The leaders of the main political parties each stir strong feelings. Jeremy Corbyn, who leads the Labour Party, is no exception. He’s a man of extreme views, and for Britain’s Jews he represents what many have called the most anti-Semitic politician in memory. 87% of British Jews call him an anti-Semite. 47% of British Jews say they would consider emigrating if Corbyn became Prime Minister.
A recent front-page article in the British newspaper The Jewish Chronicle summed up many criticisms of Corbyn: “Throughout his career, he has allied with and supported antisemites… He has described organizations like Hamas, whose founding charter commits it to the extermination of every Jew on the planet, as his ‘friends’. He has laid a wreath to honour terrorists who have murdered Jews….”
Some voters who support some of Corbyn’s policies - or who dislike the policies advocated by Boris Johnson, leader of the Conservative Party and a polarizing politician in his own right - justify supporting Corbyn despite his deep flaws. That was what a British acquaintance told me recently: “I dislike Corbyn,” he said, "but I'd vote for him because I dislike the other politicians even more."
Yet evil is always evil, no matter what the context. Voting for a virulent anti-Semite is always wrong, even when there are larger political issues at play. Finally, a brave group of 24 British writers and other public figures has stood up and declared that no matter what the larger political picture, they cannot and will not support Corbyn, an anti-Semite.
“Under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership” a public letter published Nov. 14, 2019, explains, “Labour has come under formal investigation...for institutional racism against Jews. Two Jewish MPs have been bullied out of the party. Mr. Corbyn has a long record of embracing antisemites as comrades.” The letter was signed by 24 well known public authors, actors, and activists including John Le Carre, actor Tom Holland, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and historian Antony Beevor.
The public figures acknowledge that the looming prospect of Brexit dominates public discussion today. Compared to this major issue, other problems such as Corbyn’s stance on Jews and Jewish interests have routinely been dismissed as a minor footnote to the bigger problems facing the nation. The letter’s signatories dismiss this reasoning, explaining that the way Britain treats its Jews says something basic about what the country stands for. They won’t vote for Corbyn, no matter what their political views, because to do so would violate a basic standard of decency they will never surrender.
“...Antisemitism is central to a wider debate about the kind of country we want to be” the signatories declare: “To ignore it because Brexit looms larger is to declare that anti-Jewish prejudice is a price worth paying for a Labour government… The path to a more tolerant society must encompass Britain’s Jews with unwavering solidarity.”
We owe the signatories a debt of thanks for standing up for what is right and not excusing anti-Semitism. No matter how high it seems the political stakes might be, voting for an anti-Semite sends a message to all Jews that they are not welcome, that their rights and security is not fully valued.
These are perilous political times, but as these 24 British figures have bravely and eloquently reminded us, we can never afford to compromise our morality for the sake of politics.