In fairness to the British Labour Party, it’s clear that they really want to condemn anti-Semitism, and would do so in a hurry, if only these Jews would quit trying to make it all about themselves. In two separate incidents last week, Labour Party branches refused to condemn the Pittsburgh massacre or mention anti-Semitism in reference to the attack by a gunman who shouted “all Jews must die” before killing 11 Jews inside a synagogue.
On Oct. 30, three days after the bloodshed in Pittsburgh, the Southend Labour Party branch removed the single mention of anti-Semitism from its resolution condemning the attack. Here is the offending line that was taken out of the final resolution: “antisemitism exists in society and all forms of antisemitism must be eradicated.” This is what passes for a controversial sentiment in Britain today.
Motion of solidarity for Pittsburgh amended at Southend Labour CLP.
— Marlon Solomon (@supergutman) October 31, 2018
Not to be outdone, the Labour Party’s Norton West branch refused to condemn the attack at all. In a Facebook post, the branch secretary, Steve Cooke, wrote that he was “aghast to report that an emergency motion on the Pittsburgh synagogue attack which I took to my Labour Party branch meeting last night was voted down.” Predictably, the problem with the motion was its insistence on centering Jews as the victims of the Pittsburgh massacre. There was already too much attention paid to “anti-Semitism this, anti-Semitism that,” Cooke wrote of the objections to his resolution from fellow branch members. Instead of Cooke’s explicit reference to anti-Semitism, his colleagues demanded that it be removed and replaced with a generic condemnation of racism.
Intriguingly, Cooke wrote that “the conflict over this issue does not follow the left-versus-right stereotypes presented in the media.” In fact, he said, it was actually the branch’s most left-wing members, a group in which he includes himself, who supported the resolution, while “it was the longer-established, Corbyn-sceptic members who opposed the motion.”
It’s too bad that Britain’s Jews “don’t understand English irony,” as Jeremy Corbyn recently lamented, otherwise they might get to get to marvel at the competitive varieties of anti-Jewish thought and tradition animating contemporary British politics.
In one camp, are the Corbyn-led, leftover Soviet Third-Worldists who believe that Jews are trying to enforce a monopoly on the discourse around racism and anti-Semitism. There are exceptions to this tendency on the British left, as Cooke illustrates, but it’s the de facto party line among Corbynites whose power has risen in British national politics. These are the comrades fighting to free the struggle against anti-Semitism from Jewish control so that it can be redistributed to more deserving people. But they are hardly alone. Right alongside them is the old-fashioned English disdain for the vulgar Jewish “other.” Only, perhaps the two styles of contempt are not really so different after all and where one ebbs the other flows, like two tributaries of the same poison stream.