Earlier this year, as it headed ever deeper into anti-Semitism, the Labor party under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn (who once described Hamas as “an organization dedicated towards . . . bringing about long-term peace and social justice”) undertook to assuage concerns by commissioning an inquiry led by Shami Chakrabarti. Jamie Palmer, subjecting the resulting report to careful analysis, finds it less a diagnosis of the problem than another symptom of it:
On June 30, the inquiry released its findings, which Chakrabarti introduced with the following lines: “The Labor party is not overrun by anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, or other forms of racism. Further, it is the party that initiated every single United Kingdom race-equality law.”
It is worth lingering on these sentences, because they help to explain what is wrong with almost everything that follows. First, the elision of “anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, or other forms of racism” . . . all but guarantees a report filled with generalities at the expense of the particular.
The second sentence is intended to substantiate the claim made by the first. It is not simply a statement of fact, but an affirmation of the Labor party’s presumed moral authority on the subject of racism, whereas the [subject] of the report was meant to be how the party had abdicated that moral authority on the issue of anti-Semitism. . . . This moral complacency percolates through the entire report, and Chakrabarti repeatedly returns to Labor’s history of anti-racism as if it were an unchallengeable alibi. . . .
In her concluding remarks, she further acknowledges “a series of unhappy incidents which did no credit to the Labor party”—an understatement on both counts. What she does not acknowledge is the anti-Semitic nature of those unhappy incidents, or that they emerged against a backdrop of escalating alarm about the party’s attitude toward Jews. . . .
Insofar as the particularities of anti-Semitism are addressed, Chakrabarti allows that presuming Jews control the media or finance is “wholly insensitive.” Holocaust denial and the analogizing of Nazism and Israel, however, are in “bad taste” and so best avoided. Lest we mistake the nature of her concern, she adds that such comparisons “are all too capable, not only of bringing the Labor party into disrepute, but of actively undermining the cause of peace, justice, and statehood for the Palestinian people.”