A personal statement from Graham Bash, editor of Labour Briefing, on antisemitism, Labour and Jeremy Corbyn
As a Jew (all my life) and Labour Party member (48 years) I am outraged at the way allegations of anti-Semitism have been used to silence legitimate criticism of Israel and undermine Jeremy Corbyn as my party’s leader.
I know what anti-Semitism is. I was brought up to learn how the Jewish East End fought with the dockers against Mosley’s fascists at Cable Street. I was told at school how it was a pity that Hitler didn’t finish off the job of murdering all Jews. And very quickly I learned what it was like to be made to feel an outsider. It was hardly surprising that I started going on anti-fascist demos in my late teens and very soon afterwards joined the Labour Party, which I remain a member of to this day.
I know what anti-Semitism is. Apart from socialist, anti-racist politics, my other love is football. How many times as a West Ham fan have I had to endure my own team’s fans singing “I never felt more like gassing the Jews”? Or being attacked by my team’s own fans for daring to put up a ‘West Ham fans United Against Racism’ banner at Upton Park.
I know what anti-Semitism is – I have a sensitive ear for anti-Semitic comments – and, without doubt, the place I have encountered it least is within the Labour Party. In 48 years, I have encountered anti-Semitism once, perhaps twice, compared to countless episodes outside.
Of course I have encountered deep antipathy to Israel, and its murderous actions to deny justice for Palestinians, but that is what I would expect from a democratic anti-racist party – and these are views shared by me and many other peace loving socialist Jews.
Throughout most of my years in the party, I have worked closely with Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell. They have always been the first to fight injustice and inequality and from them there has never been a hint of anti-Semitism.
What is happening in the party today is an attempt to cynically use rare examples, and usually false allegations, of anti-Semitism as part of a McCarthyite witchhunt against supporters of Jeremy. As if to prove the point, the latest victim is my own partner and anti-racist campaigner, Jackie Walker, of mixed heritage (Afro-Caribbean and Jewish), outrageously suspended from the Labour Party, simply for telling the truth that her Jewish ancestors were involved in financing the Slave Trade, that the African holocaust was even worse than the Jewish holocaust, and that anti-Semitism is not a major problem in Corbyn’s Labour Party.
I am proud of the heritage and family traditions that helped my development on the road to being an anti-racist, international socialist. This current witchhunt will not deflect me, and countless thousands like me, from the struggle for justice worldwide and for a socialist Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn.
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