Muswell Hill rabbi says Jewish community ‘vindicated’ by EHRC report into Labour Party antisemitism
PUBLISHED: 13:22 03 November 2020 | UPDATED: 13:43 03 November 2020
A Muswell Hill rabbi says the Jewish community has been “vindicated” by the EHRC report into antisemitism in the Labour Party which showed “there was no witch-hunt”.
On Thursday an investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission found Labour had breached the Equality Act three times on political interference in antisemitism complaints; a failure to provide adequate training to those handling antisemitism complaints; and harassment.
Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was suspended for his response to the findings in which he claimed antisemitism in the party had been “dramatically overstated”.
Rabbi David Mason, of Muswell Hill Synagogue and a Labour member himself, told the Ham&High Podcast: “The report was a vindication of many, many, many people across the Jewish community [who said] there was a serious problem of antisemitism - that it wasn’t political, that it wasn’t only about factionalisation.
“There was no witch-hunt. There was a serious issue and the leadership of the party had not dealt with it.”
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Rabbi Mason said Labour was under “new leadership” with Keir Starmer and that many of the Jewish community believed he had “no choice” but to suspend his predecessor.
“Yes, that [decision] will create conflict in the short term, but I think people will see within the Labour Party it will become a choice.
“Do they want to side against antisemitism - against intolerance of antisemitism - or with tolerance of antisemitism?”
On whether Labour has a particular problem, Rabbi Mason said antisemitism exists across society and the political spectrum, but with a “strain very akin to the left”.
“[There is a] feeling that, in a sense, because of an obsession with class and class conflict, the Jewish community doesn’t fit within the usual traditional antiracism of the left.
“Of course the far left will say: ‘Yes, of course we are against antisemitism. Of course, we’re against antisemitism.’
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“But often there will be a sense in which Jewish people are understood by some to be a malign force that is part of the sort of controlling force within global capitalism.
“Now, not everyone will say ‘that’s what I believe’ but it will come out.
“It will come out in tweets, it’ll come out in other elements of social media, and I think the existence of Israel, which is really important to the Jewish community and across it.”
Rabbi Mason said that anti-Zionism, which he called “incredibly aggressive”, had “grown up as if to connect anything that Israel does”.
He said: “Criticism of the government in Israel is important because it’s a government.
“There are Jewish people and Israeli Jewish people that criticise their own government.
“I will criticise the government of Israel because I think there are many things it’s doing that are not correct, but that doesn’t necessarily lead to it disproportionate [criticism] and also a criticism which also ends up... being against the existence of the State of Israel itself.
“So yes, it [antisemitism] lodges within the left and Jeremy Corbyn’s past being against colonialism and imperialism put Israel on the wrong side of history, and he didn’t have the ability to show any regret for mistakes - proper regret - and build a proper relationship with the Jewish community.
“And he didn’t have the ability to suppress his own factionalisation that would make this into a political issue rather than a real issue.”
Following the EHRC report, the Labour Party was served with notice of an unlawful act.
It has until December 10 to draft a plan to enact the EHRC’s recommendations which cover how antisemitism complaints are handled and how staff are trained.
To read the full report click here.
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