The Current Leaders of the British Labor Party Sat Idly By While Anti-Semites Took Over

November 3, 2020 | Daniel Johnson
About the author: Daniel Johnson, the founding editor (2008-2018) of the British magazine Standpoint, is now the founding editor of TheArticle and a regular contributor to cultural and political publications in the UK and the U.S.

When Keir Starmer assumed leadership of the UK’s Labor party this spring, it was a clear sign that the party was turning away from the far-left, anti-American, and anti-Israel turn it had taken during the five previous years, when Jeremy Corbyn was at the helm. Starmer has also shown willingness to counter the problem of anti-Semitism, which infested Labor during Corbyn’s tenure. Last week, in the wake of a government investigation into anti-Jewish prejudice and harassment in the party, Starmer even suspended his predecessor. But Daniel Johnson isn’t willing to let him off the hook just yet:

Corbyn and the Labor left . . . are not the only ones who are culpable. So are all those in leadership positions who remained silent when Jewish members of the party were persecuted, who failed to act when whistleblowers were bullied, or who were complicit in concealing the extent of anti-Semitism. The present deputy leader, Angela Rayner, still defends him as “a fully decent man.” Most of the present shadow cabinet are guilty of collaboration. And that includes the leader.

Sir Keir [did not] protest when Corbyn himself was found to have hosted an event at which that lie [that Zionism is the new Nazism] was the main theme, or when he defended an anti-Semitic mural, or when he was found to have attended a wreath-laying ceremony for the terrorists who carried out the Munich massacre of Israeli Olympic athletes, or any of the other scandals that resulted in an exodus of the party’s leading Jewish MPs. The evidence against Corbyn has long been overwhelming—yet such was the atmosphere of intimidation created by Momentum, [the pro-Corbyn group within Labor], and other far-left organizations that few dared to speak out. Luciana Berger, for example, lived in fear of her life and was forced out as an MP while pregnant. She has not forgiven Sir Keir’s failure to support her.

Just a year ago, Keir Starmer was still in denial about all these things. Has he now seen the light? Or is he engaged in yet another damage-limitation exercise? Never mind about Jeremy Corbyn—he is yesterday’s man. The anti-Semitism of the far left, however, is a problem for today and tomorrow.

[There are] serious questions—existential questions—that have yet to be answered. Is Sir Keir himself fit for office? Is the Labor party fit to be the official Opposition? Is anti-Semitism now a fixture in British politics? Is this country, which stood alone against Hitler, still a safe place for Jews to live?

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