Jeremy Corbyn: Anti-Semite Or Scapegoat?

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Written by Ojomo Oluwatomisin |

What really is anti-Semitism? It is simply animosity and hate towards the Jewish culture, its been ongoing for decades and unfortunately it has found it’s way into the Labour Party.

On the 29th of October a long awaited report was published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), a non-departmental public body that is responsible for the enforcement of equality legislation in England, Scotland and Wales. The report dropped a bombshell, one that was already suspected by most anticipants and detractors of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

“But why suspend the former Labour Leader over the Party’s negligence?” | Wikimedia

Prior to this report, an investigation was launched into the handling of anti Semitic complaints lodged under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn by the EHRC in 2019, which eventually revealed that the Party was responsible for three breaches of the Equality Act. These included the political interference in the complaints process concerning anti-Semitic complaints, failure to provide adequate training to those dealing with complaints and finally, the harassment of Jewish Labour members. The reports results, partially led to the suspension of Jeremy Corbyn.

But why suspend the former Labour leader over the party’s negligence? After all, the report didn’t declare that Corbyn himself was an anti-Semite. Well, during an LBC radio interview, the current Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer justified that his actions regarding Corbyn’s suspension were motivated by the latter’s response to the report. He declared that Corbyn had denied the “seriousness of the findings” by saying it was “exaggerated and fictional stuff”.

You can see that the reason behind Starmer’s decision to suspend Corbyn has partially derived from the report and on the reaction to Corbyn’s response. But was Corbyn’s response to the report unfounded?

I have dug through a series of different sources to excavate evidence that questions Jeremy Corbyn’s suspension and it turns out that in 2016 there were creeping fears about the “clear evidence of ignorant attitudes” towards anti-Semitism within the terrains of the Labour Party in 2016. As a result, then-leader Corbyn took a step in tackling the concerns raised by asking barrister Shami Chakrabarti, a member of the shadow cabinet, to launch an enquiry into the Party in order to gauge the extent to which the party was institutionally anti-Semitic.

Keir Starmer, current leader of the Labour Party | Chris McAndrew/Wikimedia Commons

The Chakrabarti report soon revealed in June 2016 that the Party wasn’t subsumed in anti-Semitism, or other forms of racism and went as far as recommending twenty ways to tackle instances of racism within the Party. But was this act of leadership intervention enough?

Having considered the reason for the suspension provided by Keir Starmer, is there more to his decision than meets the eye? Was this a political or an ideological move? Well, Starmer is known to dislike political labels like ‘Blairite’, ‘Corbynite’, ‘socialist’ etc. as he doesn’t want them to define his premiership as a Labour leader. He is the polar opposite to Jeremy Corbyn on the political spectrum, stating that he wants to “work constructively with the government”, a statement that would be anathema to Corbyn. Following his pledge to unequivocally deal with any signs of anti-Semitism, Starmer asked Rebecca Long-Bailey to step down from her position as shadow Education Secretary after she shared a story containing anti-Semitic conspiracy theories earlier this year.

“he should not be a scapegoat for the party’s sins”

Would this have been a major opportunity for Keir to get rid of Corbyn? One would suspect so, since Corbyn’s influence still pervades a faction of the party and maintains a ‘Corbynite’ undertone. Even if he isn’t the Labour leader anymore, his presence in the Party most likely disrupts Starmer’s call for unity. The current leader must have grabbed this opportunity to stamp out the remaining vestiges of the radical left movement in his promise of uniting the Party, one might conclude.

Maybe Corbyn wasn’t unequivocal enough – maybe he was too reticent when it came to addressing the issue of anti-Semitism publicly. Maybe he should have distanced himself from anti-Semitic symbols, or from commenting his support for anti-Semitic murals, as seen on his Facebook post in 2012.

Despite Corbyn’s actions, one would suspect that Keir Starmer’s instinctive decision to suspend Corbyn was born out of fear; the fear of appearing to carry on the legacy of Jeremy Corbyn or worse, being seen as a supporter of an ‘anti-Semite’.

“Kier Starmer has pledged to ‘unequivocally deal with any signs of anti-Semitism'” | Markus Spiske/Unsplash

One thing is certain – the Labour Party is divided and has broken the law. However, Jeremy Corbyn alone doesn’t make up the Labour Party and consequently he should not be a scapegoat for the Party’s sins. As to whether he is anti-Semitic or not – it is for you, the reader, to decide.

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