Why does the British Labour Party struggle with Antisemitism?

By | 18th July 2019

The relationship between the British Labour Party and sections of the UK Jewish community goes back a very long way. This is why Labour’s evolving policy on Israel has been so emotive for so many people…

Within this context, some Labour Party members have clearly not thought carefully enough about the words they have used to criticise the financial system and/or the actions of the state of Israel. The intensity of the feelings aroused by the age of austerity and the deliberate impoverishment of many social groups has led to a revival of some of the historic tropes of Jewish financiers as exploiters of the poor and socially marginal for their own gain. This is classic antisemitism but in a very different context from the similar rhetoric of some contemporary white nationalists. When such language is used, though, it is deeply distressing to many Jewish members of the party, whose family may have a history of membership and activism that goes back several generations. They have seen Labour as a vehicle for their aspirations to build a fairer society within which all religions will be respected. Emotions run high on all sides – and create opportunities for others to provoke and enhance divisions for their own mischievous or malicious purposes.

No one in this situation has a monopoly of virtue but all are capable of choosing their words to claim that.

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