UK's Labour deals with socialist antisemitism in its ranks: Why Democrats must prevent the Corbynization of our party


Jeremy Corbyn. Photo: Andy Miah. License.

To be sure, America has not always - in fact it has never - lived up to its founding creed of all people being created equal. Nevertheless, in our quest to form a more perfect union, American liberals have pursued a path that has demanded active-antiracism, securing the rights and freedoms of women, and standing against religious bigotry, whether anti-Catholic, anti-Muslim, or anti-semitic.

And yet, over the past decade or so, a dark dormant corner of the left across America and Europe has grown into its own, and it has increasingly become comfortable with antisemitism - especially against Jewish people who dare to stand up to their orthodoxy.

When the UK Labour party suffered a historic loss in last year's parliamentary elections to a Boris Johnson's Conservative party, there was two predominant reasons: the hard left, socialist turn of then-leader Jeremy Corbyn, and a perception among the British public that the Labour Party under Corbyn condones and welcomes antisemitism. The impression was not unmerited; given Corbyn had himself hosted events that compared Jews to Nazis.

Leftists across the Atlantic denounced the framing of Corbyn as an anti-semite, however, and after spending the better part of two years marrying their American hero, Bernie Sanders, to Corbyn, the radical left had to fight that perception.

But in a report released today, the UK Equality and Human Rights Commission confirms that the popular view of Labour as receptive to antisemitism was not some sort of 'establishment' propaganda coup. The Commission identified "serious failings in the Labour Party leadership in addressing antisemitism and an inadequate process for handling antisemitism complaints." 

The report found Labour guilty of three separated breeches of the UK's Equality Act, including political interference with intraparty complaints about antisemitism and harassment. Jewish leaders within the party had been warning for some time that the party's activists had created an out-of-control antisemitic environment with their opposition to Israel, and that view is vindicated by the report. It found Corbyn's office specifically guilty for inappropriately interfering with the complaints process 23 times over just the last half of 2019, and it named other Labour elected officials for harassment of British Jews over via social media postings.

To their credit, the party, which is no longer led by Corbyn, took immediate steps to suspend Jeremy Corbyn pending an investigation after Corbyn defended his conduct in the face of the damning report.

Although his own party appears ready to cut the umbilical cord with Corbyn, the American socialist left is vowing solidarity with the disgraced Labour leader. Because (so-called) class struggle.

The DSA, of course, is the same group that claims the likes of Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, members of Congress who have consistently toiled in antisemitic tropes, promoted antisemitic artists, and outright attacked the legitimacy of Israel's existence. The DSA also openly supports and proudly organizes a global business embargo against Israel through the Boycott, Divest, and Sanction 'movement.'

DSA and company, of course, does not consider the BDS embargo campaigns to be antisemitic. But the vast majority of Jewish Americans do. A report just released from the American Jewish Committee (AJC) shows that 80% of Jewish Americans familiar with BDS view it as antisemitic, and breaking out of the leftist orthodoxy for once, young people between the ages of 18 and 29 are more likely than their older peers to view BDS as antisemitic.

82% of American Jews, according to the AJC survey, say that antisemitic violence and rhetoric are on the rise in America.

Jewish Americans also see political extremes as antisemitic. 82% of American Jews say significant antisemitism pervades the radical right, while 61% say it also diseases the far left. Nevertheless, American Jews see the Democratic party as their natural home. 69% of American Jews view the Republican party as subscribing to at least some antisemitic views, while just 37% say the same about the Democratic party.

That discrepancy is most definitely based in reality: Republicans, especially under Donald Trump, have harnessed the support of white supremacists and swastika-waving neo-Nazis. On the other hand, leading Democratic figures, by and large, have soundly and loudly rejected antisemitic rhetoric and behavior whenever it has attempted to take a hold within our party.

We must continue that commitment, and a large part of rejecting antisemitism in the Democratic party has to consist of an unequivocal rejection of the present iteration of American socialists and their drive to delegitimize and the Israeli state. At the core of this must be a rejection of BDS.

We must protect the Democratic party from anyone who could be a Jeremy Corbyn of our own.