|The new leader of Britain's opposition Labor |
Party Jeremy Corbyn. (photo credit:REUTERS)
05 May '16..
The strangest aspect of the current hullabaloo in Britain about anti-Semitism in the Labor Party is that it is happening at all. Since when has Jew-hatred been something that Labor feels it necessary to abhor? For more than a decade, the party, like the British Left from whence it emanates, has provided a warm home for Jew-haters.
Naz Shah, the Labor MP who set off the alarms with her call to deport the more than six million Jews of Israel to America, has a rich history of Jew-hating. Shah entered parliament by unseating George Galloway.
Galloway was expelled from the Labor Party in 2003 after he called for British soldiers to refuse to follow orders in Iraq and sided with Saddam Hussein against his own country.
But Galloway’s hatred for Britain pales in comparison to his hatred for Jews. During Operation Protective Edge in 2014, Galloway banned Israelis from entering his electoral district in Bradford.
He routinely makes explicit calls for the annihilation of Israel. And for several years now, Galloway refuses to share a stage with Israelis or with Jews who do not reject Israel’s right to exist.
Shah didn’t defeat Galloway by condemning his bigotry. She defeated him by embracing it.
As Nick Cohen wrote this week in The Guardian, a politician cannot be elected in electoral districts with large Muslim populations unless he is an anti-Semite.
Cohen recalled the case of former Liberal Democrat MP David Ward who posted anti-Semitic tweets on Twitter to prove his anti-Jewish bona fides.
Among other things, after the jihadist assaults last January in Paris, Ward wrote, “Je Suis Palestinian” on his Twitter account, while failing to condemn the massacre of Jews at the Hyper Cacher market in Paris.
Anti-Semitism in Labor is not a new or fringe phenomenon. In the 2005 parliamentary elections, when then-prime minister Tony Blair was running for a third term, the party was caught twice using anti-Semitic imagery in its campaign literature.
In the first instance, Conservative leaders Michael Howard and Oliver Letwin – both Jews – were portrayed as fat flying pigs.
In the second, Howard was portrayed as Fagin, Charles Dickens’s anti-Semitic caricature of a Jew in Oliver Twist.
In other words, more than a decade ago, when Labor was led by a man widely considered bereft of anti-Semitic sentiments and sympathetically disposed to Israel, the party used anti-Semitism to reach out to anti-Semitic Muslim voters, signaling them that they had a welcoming home in Labor.