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The Left’s Jewish Problem: Jeremy Corbyn, Israel and Anti-Semitism
8th November 2018 @ 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Dave Rich’s updated edition of The Left’s Jewish Problem: Jeremy Corbyn, Israel and Antisemitism (2018) contends that antisemitism is a ‘sickness’ at the heart of left-wing British politics that has become increasingly insidious in recent years. Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and the multitude of antisemitism scandals in his labour party have shone a new spotlight on this phenomenon, but it is by no means new. Dave Rich argues that the widening of the gulf between British Jews and the anti-Israel left was intentional, and orchestrated by political activists.
His book has been widely praised, being described as “essential reading for anyone seeking to understand modern British politics” (Stephen Pollard, Daily Express) and by author and journalist Nick Cohen as “An authoritative history of left antisemitism which is all the more powerful because of its moral and intellectual scrupulousness”.
The Henry Jackson Society is pleased to invite you to join Dave Rich in a fascinating discussion about the key players in the left’s Jewish problem, why they chose to champion the Palestinian cause, and how they sold their cause to the left.
Dave Rich is a leading authority on antisemitism, anti-Zionism and political extremism. He is head of policy at the Community Security Trust (CST), a charity that advises and represents the UK’s Jewish community on antisemitism, terrorism and extremism. He is also an associate fellow at the Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism, Birkbeck University of London, where he completed his PhD in 2015. Dave Rich has written for the New York Times, Guardian, New Statesman, Huffington Post, Standpoint, Ha’aretz, World Affairs Journal, Jewish Chronicle, Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs and the Forward. He is the author of The Left’s Jewish Problem: Jeremy Corbyn, Israel and Antisemitism (2018), originally published in 2016 and updated in light of recent revelations.
On the 8th of November the Henry Jackson Society was delighted to welcome Dr. Dave Rich author of The Left’s Jewish Problem: Jeremy Corbyn, Israel and Antisemitism (2018) and an expert in the areas of anti-Semitism and extremism.
Dr. Rich started his presentation with a brief example of an incident earlier in the day in which a Jewish woman who is a member of the ‘Momentum’ group and has campaigned for Jeremy Corbyn, appeared in a video aimed to combat anti-Semitism. The message this video broadcasted was not one to counter anti-Semitism but to create a rift between Jews who oppose Israel’s actions and those who do not. Further, justifying it under certain circumstances, for example Palestinians are seen to be fit to use any terminology of their liking to describe their oppression and not be considered anti-Semitic, whereas white British people are not to use anti-Semitic language. The person in the video then went on to explain that in order to tackle antisemitism one should take example to Jeremy Corbyn and pay attention to one’s language and the voice of the Jewish people. Our guest then went into detail about examples where Jeremy Corbyn used anti-Semitic language, which often was termed as ‘mistakes’ on his part, which seems implausible considering the frequency of these incidents. He offered a brief look into Jeremy Corbyn’s biography as part of the new left-wing movement, which is more concerned with the separation of the world into the powerful and powerless rather than being concerned with fascism and the holocaust.
Dr. Rich then explained how present politics are affected by conspiracy theories on both political spectrums left and right, often focusing a small anonymous possibly Zionist elite monopolising power and wealth and how this elite is therefore standing in the way of the ‘happiness’ and economic fulfilment of the average citizen. Worryingly when Corbyn was standing for Labour leader in 2015, 28% of his supporters believed that this was true. He then drew the parallel to the Left’s misunderstanding of racism which is often perceived as wealthy white people who oppress people of colour on a global scale. In contrast to racism, anti-Semitism is thereby not seen as exclusion of Jewish people from society but rather painting them as all-powerful and blaming them for injustice and oppression. Hence, Jews are seen as the ‘hidden hand’ and not as the floods of immigrants taking jobs.
Our guest then highlighted that the Left does recognise and oppose anti-Semitism when it is takes certain forms, referring to the recent shooting at the Pittsburgh synagogue in which a neo-Nazi killed eleven people and injured seven. However, a similar number of Jews in France were murdered in the last 12 years motivated by anti-Semitic motives, however the perpetrators were neither white French people or neo-Nazis and many of them were Islamists, but this form of anti-Semitism appears to get have been ignored.
Dr. Rich concludes his presentation by explaining that most of Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters and members of the Labour party are not anti-Semitic and that his analysis is focused on the fringes of the party which have attracted individuals who openly engage in this kind of ideology. These are either people who seek an opportunity to justify their anti-Semitic views or individuals who support Palestine and by lack of a better understanding of the language, use anti-Semitic terms to describe Palestinian suffering. Finally, he spoke about the need of the Labour party to confront these issues and deter anti-Semitism from becoming part of the party’s culture.