Europe, Politics, Top Stories

Labour Power-Games Threaten 150 Years of British-Jewish Identity

We live in an age of demonstrations – but the one protest you never see is a Jewish one. Until this week, when it was revealed that the leader of the British Labour Party had posted approvingly about a Protocols-of-Zion style public mural. This triggered the first public protest against anti-Semitism since 2012. But taking to the streets is a huge departure for the Jewish community, whose security has typically rested on fitting in. Unlike other minority groups – which now self-organise at the smallest provocation – Jewish organisations try to keep calm and carry on. This was the thrust of last year’s major report into anti-Semitism by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (IJPR), in spite of it being commissioned in response to a 30 percent rise in anti-Semitic incidents.

Sitting behind this enforced calm is the memory that Jewish de-assimilation can be fast and fatal. Berlin and Vienna were both thriving Jewish centres right up to the First World War, in which German-speaking Jews served with distinction. What came next was too fast to be believed. “This can’t be happening in the 1930s,” came the refrain. But it did. The resultant phobia of self-identification is a thread that runs through Jewish-infused culture. The Meet the Parents film – about a secular-Jewish male nurse marrying into an all-American service family – turns on just such assimilation anxiety. So did the wave of unease which greeted a UK reality TV show called Jewish Mum of the Year. It was even present in the reaction to feminist author Julie Burchill’s pro-Jewish memoir Unchosen, which was said by the editor of the Jewish Quarterly to “exemplify not anti-Semitism but its difficulty”. The message seemed to be that the next worst thing to an antisemite is a philosemite – because both cast an external light on Jewish difference.

Demonstrating outside the UK parliament therefore represents a profound shift. This is all the more pointed for the protest being called not by fringe group – like the one six years ago – but by Britain’s 300-year old Jewish leadership organisation, the Board of Deputies. At a knowing cost to cherished assimilation, it called for British Jews to self-identify – and for fellow-travellers to join up. The decision will have caused profound grief when set against Britain’s role in the vanguard of Jewish emancipation. When the Dreyfuss Affair rocked France in the 1890s, Britain already had Jewish representatives in both Houses of Parliament. When pogroms then visited the Russian Empire, Britain’s Jewish community was in the forefront of relief. Yet inflows of un-assimilated refugees only showed how far British-Jewish life had already moved from the shtetl. The subsequent advent of Nazism crystallised this patriotism further. The Rothschild Bank helped unquestioningly with British efforts in World War II, and the RAF built synagogues for its Jewish pilots.

This week’s events stand to bifurcate that hard-won identity. They also disrupt the greater task of communicating a positive Jewish identity – namely one not formed in response to anti-Semitism. The latter was the inevitable result of last century being so overshadowed by the Holocaust. But this century has – or had – seen efforts move towards a Jewish identity defined on its own terms. Such a shift was central to the creation of Jewish education centres from Brooklyn to London, and reflected a confidence in the decline of western anti-Semitism.

Its revival under Corbyn is firmly moored in the history of Marxism. This was unwittingly revealed by the clumsy use of Lenin’s borrowed aphorism – ‘anti-Semitism is the socialism of fools’ – in Corbyn’s letter of apology. The dictum reflects that ‘Jewish influence’ is a lazy means of scaling the massive edifice of Twentieth Century capitalism. The reality – as traced via the likes of Rockefeller and JP Morgan – was as much a WASP conspiracy as a Jewish one. Yet cliches are a short-cut to mobilisation, and so the old theme resurfaces: just as it did when an excitable Washington lawmaker recently aired his suspicion that the Rothschilds were controlling the weather, as well as everything else.

In the UK, the effect of political anti-Semitism is amplified by two awkward data-points from last year’s IJPR survey. First, the oft-drawn distinction between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism is not heard by all Jewish ears. This is both because many individuals feel a cultural affinity to Israel, and because anti-Semites abuse the ‘anti-Zionism’ defence so readily (most recently when the UK’s Holocaust Education Trust was dismissed as peddling ‘Zionist fantasies’). Second, the two responses both intersect and become more pronounced among observant Muslim respondents – who are, in turn, over-represented in the Labour vote. These vectors square the circle of Jewish concern over Labour’s apparent race-baiting.

Now the community has taken the radical step of protesting; even in the knowledge that doing so may only isolate it further. It was a brave move to gather only yards from the site of last year’s Westminster terror attack, shortly after its first anniversary. And yet the event garnered a fraction of the police protection afforded – for example – to Free-Palestine and Al-Quds-Day marches. Much of the security instead fell to private organisations, in another indicator of the unwelcome risk of separatism. Equally isolating is the perception that anti-Semitic hate speech is tolerated above other sorts of hate speech – in spite of being proved to be an early indicator of terror tendencies.

The creeping fear is that Jeremy Corbyn’s historified anti-Semitism magnifies an existential threat to life. It was a threat of which Europe was reminded last week, when 85-year-old Mireille Knoll, a Holocaust survivor, was stabbed and immolated in her flat in Paris. Yet Corbyn’s focus remains on the internal dynamics of his powerbase. ‘Moderate’ MPs who joined in the anti-Semitism demonstration are now apparently being targeted for deselection. Such introversion is supported by the readiness of Corbyn’s supporters to believe in their own displays of maskirova. This old Soviet strategy means ‘masking’ the truth behind an endless static of conspiracy and counter-conspiracy, until only the voice of the leader is heard. Within hours of the demonstration being announced, the hashtag #thenextCorbynsmear was circulating on Twitter.

In the self-rooted hagiography of Corybnism, the leader cannot put a foot wrong – while no-one outside the hierarchy can put a foot right. Had only a fraction of his anti-Jewish sentiments been expressed on the Tory benches, Corbyn would now be loading his moral potato-gun. But so unwilling is he to turn it on his own benches – let alone himself – that his own Head of Dispute Resolution has now resigned. We have seen the same display of partisanship on soi-disant liberal issues ranging from physical misogyny to fatal child grooming. Such mendacity has been wearing thin on the British public for months. If mobilisation of the Jewish community provides an inflexion point against Corbyn’s courtship of violent undercurrents, then it is a departure for which we should all be grateful.


Toby Guise is a London-based writer with an interest in political culture, who is also published in Reaction, The Tablet, and Taki’s Magazine. He is the author of one novel, The Gold Sands. Follow him on Twitter @TobyGuise.

Featured image provided by the author.


  1. Alex says

    Utterly pointless, feel good article.

    The origin of this *not new* antisemitism are not even laid bare, how can you even hope to make a dent in it?

    Why referring to Mireille Knoll murder, without even trying to get to the bottom of it? There’s was another murder a year ago, and it took over 6 months to the department of justice to admit it was religiously motivated.

    Why not telling there’s hardly any jewish pupils attending state-funded schools in the entire greater Paris area? (20 Million inhabitants)

    Why not telling that in Marseilles, France’s second largest city, the department of education OFFICIAL position is for jewish pupils to NOT attend state-funded schools?

    You live in a dream, wishing it would go away with an article.

    • Loïc Hoguin says

      I had trouble finding information about your last point. The official in question is simply the retired director of three middle schools from poor areas in Marseille and he spoke about his and some colleagues experience, not about a general policy. His name is Bernard Ravet and he wrote the book “Principal de collège ou imam de la République”.

      His position was about a single Jewish pupil who could not enter private Jewish school because it was full, so he contacted the director of the private school out of concern for his safety. As far as I can tell Jewish people did not wait for him to avoid public schools in his area. They already did before his involvement.

      • Bill says

        Isn’t the pupil’s family’s concern about safety if entering state-run-school the whole point? Whether or not there is a published position, that fear is enough. Now, i’m saying this semi-sarcastically because this very behavior led to the Frankenstein’s mob-think immediately following the election of Trump when all the fake incidents of anti-black/anti-muslim were occurring (followup news articles showing them to be made-up to inflame). The side-effect of the made-up incidents is that the greater population became fearful. Were muslims being attacked? No. But the media and reporting of these fictitious events had people I know fearing they were true and changing their behavior. I don’t know if that’s the case in Paris or Marseilles, but similar could explain the lack of Jewish pupils even without an “official” position. Well publicized reports (even through word of mouth in the community) of attacks on Jewish pupils could easily result in Jewish families sending their children to private schools — the precautionary principle.

        • Alex says

          @Bill, the comment from Loic you reacted to is simply an attempt to cover up the despicable nature of antisemitism in France, and its origins.

          The nature of the threat is very real. The problem is the behaviour of the Jewish community, which instead of pushing back, tries to accommodate the situation. Therefore, there’s no narrative until it is too late.

          Which is exactly what this article does, and is therefore complicit with an ideology that has the elimination of jewish covenant as its main goal. Had this man be the majority opinion after WWII, Israel simply wouldn’t exist.

          Judaism is the root of the Christian tree. Cut it off, and it will die, which will make Islam the only monotheism on the planet. At least, I can give islam its due: it understands the relationship between all 3 monotheism better than anyone else.

        • Loïc Hoguin says

          See my other comment below, things are worse than originally stated precisely because it’s not an official position. There’s no public acknowledgment of these issues.

          I do not think we have had fake incidents like you did in North America. Maybe I missed them. What we do have is actual attacks on homosexuals and Jewish people, reported in the media and handled by the Justice system. But attacks are not the real problem, attacks have actually been decreasing overall (they still represent 40% of all racist and religious-motivated attacks though).

          The problem is more in the social climate, with insults, intimidations and conspiracy theories being rampant. These are not tracked down very well, not properly discussed and it leads to Jewish people avoiding public schools, avoiding wearing the kippa or leaving the country. It is worrying.

          • Mr. Loic… Let me be the first to tell you that we Jews mostly find the elaborate “Jewish People” substituted relentlessly and unfailingly by bien pensants such as yourself —rather than to being seen/heard using the obviously-pejorative “Jew” and “Jews”— to be annoying, patronizing, and ignorant. “Jew”, “Jews”, and even “The Jews” are all OK. Trust me. That’s what we call ourselves. And not, I assure you, the way that the infamous “N-word” can be used freely and glibly within certain Peoples of Color subcultures. But otherwise, outrageous —yea, prosecutable— hate speech if used outside the protected group: irrespective of context and innocent rhetorical purpose. Been there done that.

      • Alex says

        Sure, go back to sleep. Nothing to see here.

        Since I suppose you’re French, instead of recycling information, you should actually go and have a talk with French Jews, and figure out what they say?

        Can they walk Paris suburbs with their Kippa on? What the feedback of being a jew in a public school in the 93th department, north of Paris? How about walking the streets of Paris’ Northern districts?

        That’s for Marseille.

        So long as a majority of the Jewish population refuses to confront the nature of the threat jews will never be safe.

        Anti semitism is the founding stone of Islam, why is this so hard to understand?

        • Loïc Hoguin says

          I did not deny any of your points, I was just clarifying the last one. I’m not sure why you think I want to cover anything up.

          The fact that it’s not an official position is MORE worrying because the government is not clearly acknowledging that such problems exist. If at least the government was acknowledging such problems, instead of denying them when they pop up (like in your first point), then perhaps we could have a good discussion about the issue.

          • Alex says

            Ah, sorry then. I guess I misread your intentions.

            This is an official position, go to a state funded school, northern districts of Marseille, and ask the principal “My son is jewish, and sometimes wears a kippah, is it ok to register him?” See what happens.

            This thing is going totally out of hand, not by an already established malfeasance, but by its scope.

            If you live in Paris near its ‘colourful’ areas, try hang out at bars where the youth kills time. During my last trip to France, I’ve heard the worst imaginable through videos they’d watched with gravitas, in open air. Even Louis Ferdinand Celine would have blushed. The full monty (Jews and Free mason), condoned by religion.

            It’s been like this for years now. Women pushed out, Jews pushed out, Vietnamese pushed out, simply because journalists are too COWARDS to name the problem. Now, the sewage is coming tickling their toes, but still, not courageous enough.

            Isn’t it Toby?

          • Alex says

            This is France now:


            For those who do not read French, the graffitis were written in Paris 8 Pantheon-Sorbonne University. The future leftist elite.

            “Hit fast, hit hard, a good cop is a dead cop.”

            Hatred of whites, Jews, policemen and women on the walls of the University of Paris 8.

  2. ga gamba says

    Labour finds itself in the pickle here. The upswing in anti-Semitic acts has come disproportionately from the group of new friends and neighbours, one that’s numerically greater than Jews and also having the “advantage” of being viewed as oppressed by the left. They number about 4.1m vice 260,000 Jews in the UK, and both groups tend to vote Labour. Further, this community is growing rapidly whilst Jewish population remains static.

    From a study conducted by the University of Oslo for the Centre for Studies of the Holocaust and Religious Minorities published June 2017: Respondents in all four countries [UK, France, Germany and Sweden] most often perceived the
    perpetrator(s) to be “someone with a Muslim extremist view”. It is also worth noting that in France, Sweden and the UK (but not in Germany) the perpetrator was perceived to be left-wing more often than right-wing.

    The left’s delusion and dissonance are so great the sexual grooming and gang rapes of thousands of working-class teenaged girls was wished away time and time by again by Labour-led councils because it caused too much angst to address. Labour MP Sarah Champion, who in 2017 warned girls were being targeted by South Asian Muslim groom-and-rape gangs, was sacked for her comment whilst Labour MP Naz Shah liked and retweeted a post: “Those abused girls in Rotherham and elsewhere just need to shut their mouths. For the good of diversity.” In 2016 Ms Shah was suspended by Labour over her anti-Semitic online posts. It’s a recurring problem, but one that’s tolerated.

    It’s improbable Muslims will change their antipathy of Jews, and it’s also unlikely Labour will win a parliamentary majority without Muslim votes. Will Labour reform? Unlikely, though it’ll go through the motions yet again and pray everyone exercises discipline online and when meeting journalists and constituents. Once in power, Labour will have five years to pass legislation beneficial to this important constituency and to isolate the Party from Jews’ influence and defection to the Liberal Democrats and Tories.

    • Alex says

      >It’s improbable Muslims will change their antipathy of Jews

      It’s impossible for Islam to cure its antisemitism. That’s the reason why it was created.

      • ga gamba says

        I always hold on to a bit of hope that things can change for the better despite overwhelming evidence they won’t.

        I haven’t seen any evidence stating the reason why Islam was founded is anti-Semitism, but very soon after the start the antipathy was there. Of course, antipathy for others also existed, waxing and waning in fervor during several periods over time.

        • Alex says

          Because Islam is a continuation of Judaism, and Jews have broken the covenant they had with God (see verses 1:6, and 1:7 of the Quran).

          Therefore, they must convert, or face eternal damnation for the fact of being Jew (which is different of being of another religion while not knowing of Islam, where there’s no damnation, or being Christian who have just strayed away.)

      • Perhaps Muslim are so anti-jew because Israel made a colony out of Palestine and are essentially attempting a genocide of its people. Islam is FAR from being perfect, but before making such a remark you should take into consideration ALL factors involved instead of picking and choosing.

        • So when Muhammad exterminated the Jews of Arabia 1400 years ago it was because of Israel and when during centuries the Jews were persecuted and at best vaguely tolerated it was because of Israel that did not exist ?
          Of course, I do not need to tell you that “Palestine” never existed and that there is no genocide because you know that and is just lying.

          • Palestine is a country. Israel may want to destroy this country, but it doesn’t change the fact that it is there. But going by your argument, well you know Israel doesn’t really exist either. After all, it was gifted by the British government to Zionist. It was in essence a spoil of war. So how much of a state is it? I’m not I can say.

            I have never claimed that Islam is a perfect religion. Far from that. In the name of Islam atrocities have been committed. Nonetheless, I should point out that if we want to talk about grievance dating millennia ago, then me as a Frenchwoman shouldn’t be living in England as I do since England is one of our traditional enemy.

            I will repeat myself again, but Jews do not have the monopoly on victimhood. Various people and various faith throughout history have suffered tremendous hardship and humiliation and have been discriminated against. You can honestly say that Israel at the moment isn’t trying to wipe out the people that live in Palestine? Wow, the level of denial of some people is impressive! I suggest you go on this website for enlightenment:

  3. nicky says

    The smooching of Labour with the most misogynistic, anti-semitic, homophobic, patriarchal and hegemonistic religion there is, is a valid reason not to vote Labour, I’d say.

  4. Amado says

    ga gamba is right on! in my opinion, the last paragraph will come to pass sooner rather than later…

  5. Santoculto says

    Joos are fallen angels, the rest of umankind is sinner…

  6. Finlay O'Rourke says

    “Unlike other minority groups – which now self-organise at the smallest provocation – Jewish organisations try to keep calm and carry on. ”

    What an absurd statement.

    Jewish-controlled groups (SPLC, ADL, Hope Not Hate) are currently renowned as being trigger-happy with accusations of racism and anti-semitism.

    If you like a mural featuring a caricature of 5 bankers, and 1 of the cartoon bankers has a Semitic nose – these groups will cast you as Hitler reborn.

    The Jewish population of the UK is comparable to the populations of Chinese and Sikhs living in the UK – yet you hardly ever hear of these groups proclaiming eternal victimhood.

    • Bettina says

      Perhaps because Europe doesn’t have a centuries-old tradition of slaughtering those groups?

      • For god sake! Most of the enterntainment industry is owned by people of the Jewish faith. France had a Jewish president. Do you really think that Jew are part of the “oppressed”. Economically has a group, they are doing better than Aryan (white) people. So please, yes they have suffered but that suffering is long past. Seriously, is it likely that a police officer will shoot a jew, the way they do black man? No. Before spitting nonsense, Quillette writers should actually have knowledge of geopolitics and history.

        • France never had a Jewish president. And in France Jews are killed for being Jews. “Economically”, who cares ? Only crazy marxists think like that.

          • Nicolas Sarkozy is Jewish. Secondly, have you ever been to France? Yes, I know of one major case of the murder of a Jewish person. And anti-semitism exist, but the percentage of people hating jews is very low. It’s not even remotely comparable to what is happening to black people in the US. Well, call me a crazy maxists all you want, but that does not change the fact that economic power does matter, because money brings influence and with influence you can do a great number of thing. I won’t propagate the lie that Jews are the most victimised people in our society. At some point, we all need to decide what we care about most, Truth and our belief system.

    • IKR, but people just conveniently ignore those facts. Like, I don’t have anything about Jews, but a lot of people in this group have flaws. Just like individuals in any other groups. And you need to point this out. Either you’re for truth or you’re not, imo.

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