There are a lot of factors that contributed to Jeremy Corbyn’s stunning rise in the Labour Party, and his spectacular popularity with young Brits that culminated in last June’s shocking parliamentary gains. But according to the Times of Israel, there’s one man who deserves particular praise for his efforts.
TOI ran a profile this week of Jon Lansman, the leader of Momentum. Lansman, born to an Orthodox Jewish family in Northern London, is the driving force behind the Labour pressure group that’s supported Jeremy Corbyn as the Labour Party leader since its formation in 2015. The far-left group boasts 31,000 members and 200,000 supporters, and though its internal divisions have been well documented (here, here, here, and here), the magnitude of their electoral success in the 2017 general election was one of the political underdog stories of the year.
Lansman represents a different shade of what’s come to be expected of the far-left wing of the Labour Party in recent years. He’s spoken out against anti-Semitism within the party more plainly and with less qualification than many of his colleagues (though his initial defense of Jackie Walker certainly left something to be desired). A former kibbutz resident, Lansman recently voiced his opposition to BDS, and has discussed Zionism with a level of nuance and compassion rarely seen from today’s prominent Labour voices. From TOI:
[…]Lansman urged the left to stop using Zionism as a pejorative term.
“Most Jews in Britain don’t see it as an ideology, they see it as indicating support for the existence of Israel as a Jewish state,” he told the center-left New Statesman magazine. “Most British Jews…genuinely support two states, unlike the current government of Israel.”
“It’s wrong to talk about Zionism as a single ideology or a homogeneous group of people,” he added.
Among a sea of stultifying academics and finger-wagging scolds who cannot believe you’d even insinuate that there’s a speck of anti-Semitism on the Left, Lansman’s clarity and candor is a welcome sight. Though he’s been the recipient of his own share of criticism when it comes to party power struggles, making it a priority to actually own up to the anti-Semitism of some of his colleagues is admirable. More than that, it can be prescriptive: Rejecting anti-Semitism on your own team actually gives you some credibility when you want to substantially critique Israeli policy.