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Britain’s New Mainstream Racists? Does the Rot Start from the Top

UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (left) has shown support for the Hezbollah-trained extremist Dyab Abou Jahjah (right).

From the accounts of those in the Oxford University Labour Club (OULC) and elsewhere, it is clear that anti-Semitism surfaced in the Labour party at exactly the moment the party started to be led by a man who, throughout his political life, had demonstrated extreme comfort with anti-Semites.

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“The decision of the club [OULC] to endorse a movement with a history of targetting and harassing Jewish students and inviting antisemitic speakers to campuses, despite the concerns of Jewish students, illustrates how uneven and insincere much of the active membership is when it comes to liberation…” — Alex Chalmers, who resigned from the Oxford University Labour Club.

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The British Labour party is currently led by a man, Jeremy Corbyn, who has described Hamas and Hezbollah as “friends” and has spent his years in the political wilderness with Holocaust deniers, anti-Semites, terrorist-sympathisers and all manner of other undesirables. Now that he is the Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition, he has tried to present himself as a more moderate force by stressing that he has spent his life fighting racism and anti-Semitism. In fact, he appears to have spent his life being remarkably content with exponents of both.

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His Shadow Chancellor spent the same period in similar company, but with an even more fervent devotion to the terrorists of the Irish Republican Army.

The communications chief of this whole disastrous enterprise is one Seamus Milne, who devoted his career at The Guardian to keeping the scent around Joseph Stalin rosier than it ever ought to have been. If a fish, as the saying goes, rots from the top, who can be surprised if there is rot also from the tail up?

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Last week it was the turn of the Oxford University Labour Club (OULC) to throw their wares open for public view. Thanks to the unusually principled resignation of the co-chair of the organization, Alex Chalmers, we now know that apparently a large proportion of the youth branch of the party also has “problems with Jews.” Indeed, it appears that anti-Semitism has moved from the margins to the very centre of University Labour life.

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According to Chalmers, among the delights of the organization from which he resigned was that the OULC decided to endorse Israel Apartheid Week. This is the annual anti-Semitic hate-fest that takes place across university campuses in the West. Racist students build fake security walls, stage “die-ins” and pretend that murderers who carry out terrorist attacks against Israelis are instead the suffering victims of gratuitous aggression.

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It was not, however, just a desire to endorse such bigoted campaigns as Israel Apartheid Week and Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns that concerned Mr. Chalmers. He also noticed the general denigration of Israel and Jews. On his Facebook page, he wrote that the OULC was

“becoming increasingly riven by factional splits, and despite its avowed committment to liberation, the attitudes of certain members of the club towards certain disadvantaged groups was becoming posionous. Whether it be members of the Executive throwing around the term ‘Zio’ (a term for Jews usually confined to websites run by the Ku Klux Klan) with casual abandon, senior members of the club expressing their ‘solidarity’ with Hamas and explitictly defending their tactics of indiscriminately murdering civilians, or a former Co-Chair claiming that ‘most accusations of antisemitism are just the Zionists crying wolf’, a large proportion of both OULC and the student left in Oxford more generally have some kind of problem with Jews.

“The decision of the club to endorse a movement with a history of targetting and harassing Jewish students and inviting antisemitic speakers to campuses, despite the concerns of Jewish students, illustrates how uneven and insincere much of the active membership is when it comes to liberation…”

Another student, Ella Taylor, who is Women’s Officer-elect, and happens to be Jewish, confirmed the account. Ms. Taylor said that she had become “increasingly becoming aware of some of the awful outbursts about Jews which have been made over the past 12 months. I am not used to eyes being rolled when I start a sentence with ‘as a Jew.'” If Taylor has any attention of staying around Labour party politics she might have to get used to it.

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Of course the Labour party has responded in the usual way — split between expressions of concern and those of outright denial. But the real question is: when did this type of behaviour break out into the open and become acceptable? The answer is obvious to me. From the accounts of those in the OULC and elsewhere, it is clear that anti-Semitism surfaced in the Labour party at exactly the moment the party started to be led by a man who, throughout his political life, had demonstrated extreme comfort with anti-Semites.

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There is no reason for a young firebrand to fear the repercussions of anti-Semitic rhetoric if he or she has ever noted Jeremy Corbyn’s past support for the Hezbollah-trained extremist Dyab Abou Jahjah. There is no need for some young OULC party member to wonder whether prefacing things with “Zio” as an insult ought to be avoided when the Parliamentary Labour party is headed by a man who has palled around with Holocaust deniers such as Paul Eisen for many a long year. And there is every reason for OULC members to roll their eyes as ardently as the next person at the mention of the word “Jew” when those rolling their eyes next to the Labour party’s leader for many years were people sitting close to the anti-Semitic hate-cleric, Raed Salah.So yes, the rot did start from the top. And the exquisite expressions of concern from some Labour members over the reports from the OULC will only ring true once they realize that they have a problem with that top. Then and only then can they start to sort their racist problem out.

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