Corbyn Israel
George Galloway, Ken Livingstone and Jeremy Corbyn at a press conference in January 2009, with organisers of national demonstrations against Israeli military action on Gaza.Getty Images

Q: What is it about Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party that anti-Semites find so attractive?

A: Jeremy Corbyn.

The Labour leader appears to hate Israel and all it stands for. The psychopaths of Hamas seem to be his "friends", and Israel his enemy. He has an unshakable one-eyed view of the Jewish state – refusing even to utter the word "Israel" after being forced to speak at a Friends of Israel fringe meeting at last year's party conference.

Alongside George Galloway and Ken Livingstone, Corbyn is a poster boy for the British anti-Zionism movement. When the Labour Party, in an act of self-slaughter, crowned him leader, the Jew-haters began hovering around to Her Majesty's Opposition like flies to honey.

It didn't take the loonies long to cause a stir. There have been no less than six debacles in the last eight weeks, from party member Gerry Downing addressing "the Jewish question" to former Parliamentary candidate Vicki Kirby noting Jews have big noses – culminating in this week's suspension of Bradford West MP Naz Shah, who called for the "transportation" and "relocation" of Israelis as a "solution" to the Middle East problem and compared Israel to Nazi Germany.

Corbyn is a poster boy for the British anti-Zionism movement

Corbyn's default position on all these outrages is to do precisely nothing, until nothing is no longer an option. He simply utters the same warped, weasel words. Literally: "Nothing to see here... move along, move along."

He flatly refuses to tackle – even recognise – anti-Semitism, for one profoundly far-reaching reason. Jeremy Corbyn, a man who doesn't think Israel has a right to exist, inspires Jew haters. Denounce them, call this filth out for what they really are, and he denounces much of his core support.

It's Corbyn's catch 20-Jew.

So rather than label a Jew-hater a Jew-hater, he speaks in the broadest terms about "racism being unacceptable" in his party. There's always a caveat, always a balance. Rather than do the right thing, he obfuscates and draws false comparison. It's a very dark art, and every time he indulges in it his Jew-hating advocates draw closer and grow bolder.

How ironic that it was Ken Livingstone, Corbyn's kindred spirit – who the Labour leader brought back from political wilderness and into a senior role in the party – who caused this simmering mess to reach boiling point.

With the timing of a Diego Costa tackle, not-so-cuddly Ken, a man who couldn't spot an anti-Semite at a Nuremberg rally, decided in his finite wisdom to send the party into meltdown by claiming the man who slaughtered six million Jews was in fact a Zionist, in defence of suspended MP Naz Shah's anti-Semitic Facebook posts.

Crass Ken, as he so often does, mentioned the war. Unlike Basil Fawlty, he didn't get away with it.

Ken has a talent for provoking Jewish ire, from his support for homophobic Jew-hate preacher Yusuf al Qaradawi to comparing Jewish journalist Oliver Finegold to a concentration camp guard. That infamous incident, which saw him suspended as London mayor after he stubbornly refused to apologise, showed a particularly ugly self-righteous streak running through his personality.

Had he the sense to keep shtum in the wake of the Shah scandal (a woman who, irony of all ironies, sits on the Home Affairs inquiry into anti-Semitism), this whole sorry episode may well have petered out by now. After all, Shah has had a broadly positive impact on relations between UK Jews and Muslims in the year since becoming an MP. Last week she attended a Passover seder and, tellingly, her constituency's synagogue quickly jumped to her defence.

Naz Shah's suspension is a setback towards bolstering Jewish-Muslim relations, but the damage she wrought is reversible. She should be brought back into the party. For Ken, on the other hand, it's game over.

She even wrote an apology for my newspaper, Jewish News, which showed seemingly genuine remorse. Tellingly, it has since been claimed that her wording was heavily censored by the Labour leadership, removing references to wider anti-Semitism in the party.

Her suspension is a setback towards bolstering Jewish-Muslim relations, but the damage she wrought is reversible. She should be brought back into the party.

For Ken, on the other hand, it's game over. He has proved his credentials time and again as a political survivor, but this latest madcap manoeuvre surely signals the end of a chequered, often ignominious career. Expulsion is inevitable. After which, his old pal Jezza will inevitably continue to fiddle around the edges of Labour anti-Semitism, playing lip-service to his party's sickness, until Rome finally crashes at his feet. The end can't come soon enough.


Richard Ferrer has been the editor of the Jewish News since 2009.