The head of Britain’s Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, added fuel this week to the fiery accusations of anti-Semitism aimed at him and his party.
Corbyn: Anti-Semitic Attacks Ended With Holocaust
At a question and answer period following his speech on Sunday at the annual Confederation of British Industry (CBI) conference, Hannah Kaufman, a representative of the Patchwork Foundation who is a Jewish businesswoman, asked Corbyn about workplace diversity.
“All the speakers today have been talking about the importance of diversity in business and politics. But a recent survey showed that 85 percent of British Jews in the UK think that you yourself are personally antisemitic.”
“I wanted to ask, what are you going to be doing personally to demonstrate you care about racism and antisemitism in society, and show that Labour isn’t just for the many but not the Jew?”
Kaufman’s question received applause from the crowd.
Corbyn replied by saying that antisemitism has “no place whatsoever in a civilized society.”
“I’ve spent my life opposing racism in any form, be it done by the far-right or by the random attacks on individuals, or against a man that was murdered outside my house because he happened to be a Muslim and there happened to be a racist person driving a vehicle that thought it was OK to drive in a crowd of worshippers.”
“Just as much as those people that attack synagogues, daub fascist graffiti over them, or attack Jewish people in this country, the USA or anywhere else, have no place whatsoever in a civilized society.”
“The history of the Jewish people has been one of the most unbelievable and egregious,” Corbyn said. “[There were] attacks on them in central Europe throughout the early part of the 20th century, which of course ended with the Holocaust and all the horrors that went with that.”
Corbyn’s Response is the Opposite of the Truth
Corbyn’s response was lambasted in the media. He characterized Anti-Semitism, the focus of the question, as “daubs of fascist graffiti” while Islamic attacks, not included in the question, were described as vehicular attacks. It should be noted that the majority and the most deadly of vehicular attacks in Europe, England, the U.S., and the Middle East have been perpetrated by Muslims targeting non-Muslims.
Corbyn also stated that attacks against Jews ended with the Holocaust, a claim that is actually the antithesis of the truth. According to a survey carried out by the Vienna-based European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) in 2018, anti-Semitism is on the rise all over Europe including a number of deadly attacks. France, which is home to the largest Jewish community of Europe, saw a 74% increase in antisemitic incidents in 2018. In Germany, some 1,646 antisemitic acts were reported in 2018, according to police, marking their highest level in the past decade. 62 of these acts were violent, injuring 43 people. In the United Kingdom, reported antisemitic hate incidents hit a record high in 2018, with more than 100 recorded in every month of the year, according to the Community Security Trust (CST), an NGO that monitors and issues reports on antisemitism. The European Jewish Congress noted that actual incidents were much higher than reported.
“Antisemitism appears to be so deep-rooted in society that regular harassment has become part of normal everyday life,” the EJC stated. “Almost 80% do not report serious incidents to the police or any other body.”
The EJC noted that unlike previous generations, the Jews of Europe are faced with new forms of anti-Semitism from the far-left.
“Antisemitism is displayed in crude and age-old forms, in intolerance towards the other and extreme forms of nationalism and far-right Jew-hatred, but equally in the pernicious and ever-growing antisemitic tropes and anti-Zionism of the far-left,” The EJC stated.
Anti-Semitism in the UK: On the Rise
Corbyn’s claim is not even accurate for his own country. In 2018, anti-Semitic hate incidents in the UK reached a record high, according to the Community Security Trust (CST), which monitors them. CST recorded 1,652 incidents in that year, linking peaks in anti-Semitic incidents with activities in the Labour Party.
“The highest monthly totals in 2018 came in May, with 182 incidents; April, with 151 incidents; August, with 150 incidents; and September, with 148 incidents,” the CST report read. “It is likely that these higher monthly totals were partly caused by reactions to political events in the UK and overseas, involving the Labour Party and violence on the border of Israel and Gaza, during those months…There may be a link between the extent of antisemitism on social media and the kind of politically-influenced antisemitic incidents recorded in increased numbers by CST during 2018. Of the 150 antisemitic incidents recorded in August, 49 related to the Labour Party, 69 occurred on social media and 84 involved the use of extremist language or imagery.”
Corbyn Leading Labour into Holocaust Denial
Claims of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party spiked after the appointment of Corbyn as its leader in 2015. In February Labour released figures showing that the party received 673 accusations of anti-Semitism by Labour members between April 2018 and January 2019, though critics of the party claim this figure is far too low. In April, the Sunday Times reported that Labour received 863 complaints against party members. The newspaper claimed that more than half of the cases remained unresolved while there had been no investigation in 28 percent of them.
Corbyn has had difficulty in the past when referring to the Holocaust. In 2018, Corbyn supported a parliamentary motion to rename the country’s Holocaust Memorial Day, calling it instead “Genocide Memorial Day – Never Again For Anyone.”
Karen Pollock, chief executive of the UK’s Holocaust Educational Trust, reacted by accusing Corbyn of “denial and distortion.”
“The Holocaust was a specific crime, with anti-Semitism at its core,” Pollock tweeted in response. “Any attempt to remove that specificity is a form of denial and distortion.”