A sad day in the fight against antisemitism

The suspension of Jeremy Corbyn from the Labour party is undermining the fight against antisemitism.

The discussion around antisemitisme in the UK Labour party has been long, but to sum it up in the following conclusion should be relatively uncontroversial:

Labour did have a problem with antisemitism, and Corbyn was too slow in dealing with that problem (however one of the reasons for this tempo later has been documentation to be caused by anti Corbyn staffers in Labour HQ delaying the processes - probably to damage Corbyn). It is however also obviously true that the problem was exaggerated by Corbyn's political enemies both outside and inside the party, and in the media. (As all problems in a political movement will be - the particular problem with Corbyn was that he had much of his own party in open war against him, and an extreme media bias against him in addition to the political opposition.)

When current Labour leader, Keir Starmer, now has suspended Corbyn for antisemitism, we should look at what Corbyn actually has said, and I will quote it below:

My statement following the publication of the EHRC report:

“Antisemitism is absolutely abhorrent, wrong and responsible for some of humanity’s greatest crimes. As Leader of the Labour Party I was always determined to eliminate all forms of racism and root out the cancer of antisemitism. I have campaigned in support of Jewish people and communities my entire life and I will continue to do so.

“The EHRC’s report shows that when I became Labour leader in 2015, the Party’s processes for handling complaints were not fit for purpose. Reform was then stalled by an obstructive party bureaucracy. But from 2018, Jennie Formby and a new NEC that supported my leadership made substantial improvements, making it much easier and swifter to remove antisemites. My team acted to speed up, not hinder the process.

“Anyone claiming there is no antisemitism in the Labour Party is wrong. Of course there is, as there is throughout society, and sometimes it is voiced by people who think of themselves as on the left.

“Jewish members of our party and the wider community were right to expect us to deal with it, and I regret that it took longer to deliver that change than it should.

“One antisemite is one too many, but the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media. That combination hurt Jewish people and must never be repeated.

“My sincere hope is that relations with Jewish communities can be rebuilt and those fears overcome. While I do not accept all of its findings, I trust its recommendations will be swiftly implemented to help move on from this period.”

The reaction has been to the penultimate paragraph, and one might disagree with Corbyn, or think that he should not have focused on that point in this situation, but what he is claiming is factually true (perhaps somewhat depending on your personal definition of "dramatically" which is in no way a precise term), and it can in no way be considered antisemitic by any honest good faith reader.

The suspension of Corbyn has, not surprisingly been met by triumphalism by many of Corbyn's political enemies, but those of us who follow the darker subcurrents of political discourse, will also see that it is being met by triumphalism by actual antisemites.

The antisemites can now go out and claim "Look, this is what we said all along. All these claims of antisemitism are just bogus, and political tools to keep dissenting voices down."

They would be wrong of course, and a statement like this is obviously logically fallacious (someone being wrongly accused of antisemitism does not mean all or most such accusations are made wrongly, it can not as an individual case be brought to bear on other cases - all must be evaluated individually).

Misuse of claims of antisemitism like this one is a useful tool for antisemites. This and similar cases will unfortunately make it easier for them to recruit angry people from the left to their disgusting cause.

Anybody who actually has an honest engagement against antisemitism should see this, and protest this, and other, forms of abuse of such an important cause for alternate political motives.

And the motives of the Labour right are relatively obvious. They are in a situation where the membership of the Labour party is far to the left of them on central issues of economic policy. This will create problems for them in internal democratic processes.

They therefore now wish to enrage large parts of the membership to make them leave the party in protest, so they can again run the party unchallenged. And if UK Labour members do not see through this strategy, and realize how afraid the Labour establishment is of losing control of the party again, they may succeed.

More on antisemitism (in Norwegian):
Antisemittisme og venstresida

Antisemittisme på venstresida

Antisemittismen og palestinakonflikten


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