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Tell the truth. It’s the religious way.

Posted on November 26, 2019

I’m not surprised to be back here again. Just dismayed and angry.

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Who do you reckon wrote this in 2016?

Some have suggested that there is institutional antisemitism across the Labour Party – this is not a view I share, not least because I have not seen one incident of anti-Semitism in almost 20 years of activism within my local Labour Party.

It’s sure to be some grovelling Corbyn apologist, isn’t it? Afraid not. It was Chuka Umunna. He’s not in the Labour Party any more. In fact, by the time I hit the ‘publish’ button on this article, it’s anyone’s guess as to which organisation he is currently granting his favours. He’s a promiscuous chap – speaking purely politically, of course.

While you’re in quiz mood, have a go at this one – a bit more recent, in June of this year:

I am delighted to congratulate Boris Johnson on becoming the next leader of the Conservative Party and our next PM. May he be blessed with the wisdom to successfully navigate the political uncertainties we face and bring healing and prosperity to our great country.

Michael Gove? Jacob Rees-Mogg? ‘Tommy Robinson’ – a big Johnson fan, by the way. No. None of the above. It’s……wait for it…..Chief Rabbi Mirvis. The tweet’s accompanied by a lovely pic of the two of them smiling together.

Ephraim Mirvis is as entitled to his views as anyone else, even though he’s broken protocols, apparently, by revealing such political bias publicly. He’s gone further today by telling all Britain’s Jews – for whom he rather vaingloriously purports to speak – that a Corbyn government will deepen the insecurity felt by them.

C’mon, Ephraim. We’ll come to the accusations of bullying as well as the number of complaints in a moment, but you’re a man of God, so tell the truth.

There’s a good chance that a Corbyn government would, along with 137 other nation states, recognise the state of Palestine. It’s perfectly proper for you not to like that possibility. A Corbyn government would probably continue to criticise the actions of the Israeli state, especially if it continues to be led by the crook, Netanyahu. You may not like that either, but – and goodness knows how many time I’ve had to write this in the last eighteen months – criticising Israel may, understandably, upset some Jewish people but it doesn’t make you an anti-Semite.

Incidentally, if you want to know what a real anti-Semite looks like, have a look at some of the people Bibi doesn’t mind taking tea with. Ven der Bellen of Austria – the land where it’s possible to propose the need for a licence to buy kosher meat. Orban of Hungary – he of the anti-Soros ad campaign. Lovable Donald – you’ll especially like him with his spontaneous and autocratic decision to endorse more settlements. Can you really tell me – and there are more of the same out there – that you think a life-long, active anti-racist campaigner is the one to be worried about?

I know you’re also worried about Ruth Smeeth and Tom Watson and Louise Ellman and Margaret Hodge and host of others. If they’ve been threatened or intimidated, those responsible should be punished and if they’re in the Labour Party – and that’s a big ‘if’ (see below) – expelled. All of those MPs, as I’m sure you know, are part of a group called Labour Friends of Israel. No-one has any objection to them belonging to such a group or holding whatever opinions they do, but at least be honest. Just say, ‘My colleagues in Labour Friends of Israel are petrified about what a Corbyn government could mean for that friendship and so will do anything in their power to ensure that such a thing never comes about’. There. That’d be simple and honest enough.

And now for the apparent mendacity about dealing with those mountains of complaints. Well……mountains isn’t quite accurate, is it? The current Chair of the Labour Party inherited 1,106 complaints. 433 of those were not about Labour Party members. 673 left. 220 provided no evidence whatsoever. 453 left. 241 of those presented insufficient evidence for credible investigation. That leaves us with 212 outstanding cases – or 0.04% of the Labour Party’s membership. It’d take another blog to go into the genuine mendacity of those Labour Party staffers who, for their own questionable reasons, shredded paperwork while keeping their own copies with which to scuttle off to Panorama. But if any single one of those 212 is guilty of anti-Semitic behaviour, they should be out on their ear.

The trouble is, Chief Rabbi, that fair process takes a long time. I’ve no idea if you’ve sat in on workplace tribunals (I’m easily into three figures, by the way) but proper, considered judgement is not to be rushed at but, hey, you’re a Biblical scholar, so you’ll know that anyway.

I don’t care that you’ve voiced a political opinion in public. I’m sorry we disagree so profoundly. You appear to have solid, anti-apartheid activist credentials and that’s admirable. Our Jewish backgrounds couldn’t be more different, with your forebears enjoying clerical office in gorgeous Cape Town while mine arrived in the UK exhausted by pogroms and flight from the Nazis. I’ve no idea whether that accounts for the difference in our outlooks, but, please, please don’t pretend to speak for me.

And if I ever change my mind and allow you to do so – just tell the truth.

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