Tonight in perhaps the most bizarre chapter in the Jeremy Corbyn anti-Semitism row, he has come under criticism from the usual suspects for celebrating Passover with Jews in his constituency. But these are the wrong sort of Jews apparently. – Left wing Jews.
According to right wing political blog Guido Fawkes which leaked photos and a secretly made audio recording of the Passover seder attended by the Labour Leader, who brought some beetroot from his allotment as a gift, ‘Jeremy Corbyn attended an event tonight hosted by a far-left group that has called for the destruction of Israel, dismissed the Labour anti-Semitism scandal as a “cynical manipulation” and labelled Corbyn’s Jewish critics “non-Jews”.’
What isn’t mentioned there is that the group are Jews, and a part of the Jewish community that have done more than most to tackle antisemitism on the left and the right.
But predictably, MPs who leap at the chance to attack Jeremy Corbyn and the right wing press immediately seized upon the Guido Fawkes story, but not to criticise the right wing site for publishing a secretly made audio recording of Jews celebrating their Passover seder.
– No – publishing secret recordings of people’s religious celebrations apparently is OK now. But they do seem to find it an outrage that Jeremy Corbyn would celebrate the Jewish holiday with the “far left” Jewish group that calls itself Jewdas.
So who are Jewdas?
Jewdas are a London-based satirical group of left-wing Jews who have expressed support for the Palestinian cause, especially since the Gaza conflict and been branded “anti-Zionist” by the Jewish Chronicle for attacking Israeli policy. At the same time the group have also often called out anti-Semitism on the left and made submissions to the independent inquiry into anti-Semitism in the Labour Party that Jeremy Corbyn set up.
So what about Guido Fawkes’ claims? – these mainly center on a blog published by Jewdas last week which questioned the motives of the Board of Deputies of in attacking the Labour leader for not tackling anti-Semitism. The Jewdas blog post points out the Corbyn critics’ Conservative connections, while highlighting their own track record of fighting antisemitism on the left – this is an extract – the blog post goes on to describe why the whipping up of this scandal is creating a dangerous climate:
“Over the last decade, because of our position straddling the left and the Jewish community, Jewdas has been the only radical faction that took antisemitism seriously. When we joined pro-Palestine marches (which we did, proudly), we brought with us leaflets explaining how to criticise Israel without being antisemitic. We called out offensive placards and engaged in constructive conversations with people who held them.
When the entirety of the left engaged in circle-jerks about free speech after the Hyperkasher killings in Paris, we were the only group on the left to denounce those acts of terrorism as attacks on Jews.
When neo-Nazis marched through Stamford Hill, we were the only group to go out and protest them. When the same group marched on Parliament, we managed to convince the Campaign Against Antisemitism (though not the Board of Deputies) to join us.
We lost plenty of friends when we were the one of the only left factions to call for Ken Livingstone’s expulsion.
Time and time and time again, we have denounced antisemitism, left and right. We have always stood up for our community.
But now enough is enough.
What has happened over the last week is anything but an attempt to address antisemitism. It is the work of cynical manipulations by people whose express loyalty is to the Conservative Party and the right wing of the Labour Party. It is a malicious ploy to remove the leader of the Opposition and put a stop to the possibility of a socialist government. The Board of Deputies, the (disgraced for corruption) Jewish Leadership Council and the (unelected, undemocratic) Jewish Labour Movement are playing a dangerous game with people’s lives.”
The piece ends: “The Labour leadership will recover from this mess, but this fiasco may well leave scars that cannot be healed within the Jewish community. We refuse to follow the script that has been prepared for us. Enough is enough. We are not going anywhere. We are not going to accept this second-rate leadership. We are not going to be treated as idiot pawns in politicians’ turf wars.
“We are not going to shut up. Not this time.
“Enough is enough. Fuck you all. Chag Pesach Sameach.”
– Though the sweary last line is the only extract directly reported in today’s headlines. Read the blog post and other posts on the Jewdas blog and make up your own mind about them.
As Corbyn’s enemies took to social media to show that they already had made up their mind about Jewdas and the Leader of the Opposition for picking the wrong kind of Jews to celebrate Passover with, many others expressed their despair at how ridiculous this has all become.
Corbyn’s attendance at the Jewdas seber reads as a blatant dismissal of the case made for tackling anti-Semitism in Labour. #EnoughisEnough
— Angela Smith (@angelasmithmp) April 2, 2018
1. how exactly is Jeremy going to a Jewish event with Jewish people undermining the fight against anti-Semitism?
2. learn to spell seder, jesus. https://t.co/froGe0bwc6
— michael segalov (@MikeSegalov) April 2, 2018
This is deliberately baiting the mainstream Jewish community days after they pleaded with him to tackle antisemitism. And he must know that meeting them now will give his members the message that the group’s extreme views are ok. Irresponsible and dangerous https://t.co/NORQQiFq8J
— Lord Walney (@LordWalney) April 2, 2018
Can non-Jewish people like Woodcock stop trying to paint a false dichotomy between the “mainstream Jewish community” and Jewdas? Many of us, like myself, are fully-paid up synagogue members and actively involved in the “mainstream community”. We just accept its limitations. https://t.co/IhaiIkM6Ie
— Charlotte Nichols (@charlotte2153) April 2, 2018
John Woodcock, John Woodcock,
John Woodcock MP
O Tell me what kind
of Jew I should be.
— Michael Rosen 💙💙🎓🎓 (@MichaelRosenYes) April 2, 2018
Good to see @jeremycorbyn at the Jewdas seder tonight. It shows that despite the media pressure, he's trying to understand and respect the diversity of positions within the Jewish community. As a Jewish Labour Party member, this is important to me.
— Heather Mendick (@helensclegel) April 2, 2018
“Boo! Corbyn needs to get out and meets some Jews!”
[Corbyn spends Passover with some Jews at Jewdas]
“Boo! Not those Jews!”
— David Schneider (@davidschneider) April 2, 2018
EXC: A leaked audio recording reveals Corbyn was present tonight at an event held by “Jewdas” in Islington, where guests shouted “f*ck capitalism” and booed the names of mainstream Jews https://t.co/WE32BZIqY9
— Alex Wickham (@alexwickham) April 2, 2018
No it isn't. They are just Jews who disagree with other Jews. Which means: Jews. https://t.co/N2D3uxdbzq
— David Baddiel (@Baddiel) April 2, 2018
The Anti-semiticism by the Right on Guido Fawkes under the #jewdas story about Corbyn is something to behold.
Calling Jews "creatures", and other horrific anti-Semitism. Will the Tory Mouthpiece Guido Fawkes act? pic.twitter.com/KgCrFNtjH1
— Lineal Conker Champion of the World (@NUFC_OurClub) April 2, 2018
Every single journalist, politician and pundit who has endorsed the Guido ‘revelations’ tonight about Jewdas is complicit in anti-Jewish oppression, the legitimising of secretly recording a Passover Seder and the intimidation of left-wing Jews. That makes you antiSemitic. Night💤
— Gary Spedding (@GarySpedding) April 3, 2018
UPDATE: in a statement on Facebook Jewdas reacted to today’s news kerfuffle in their typical humourous style:
“While we remain opposed to the monarchy, we were delighted that the leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn accepted our invitation to join the Jewdas community Seder. Jeremy was a 10/10 guest and provided delicious maror 9the bitter herb traditionally eaten at Passover seder) from his allotment…
“We have been campaigning against antisemitism on the Left and the Right for many years. Like, way before it was popular. We have run anti-antisemitism workshops in such far flung corners as Marseille and Bloomsbury, opposed neo-Nazi demos in Stamford Hill and Golders Green, produced and distributed information on how to criticise Israel WITHOUT being antisemitic, demonstrated against left-antisemite Gilad Atzmon, and most importantly mercilessly took the piss out of Ken Livingstone. You could call us trend setters.”