Once more the Labour Party brings us news which has that uncomfortable sense of things which would ordinarily be remarkable but are in danger of becoming all too normal.
A week ago it was the visible double standard in the Opposition’s rush to judge Margaret Hodge for the crime of bluntly criticising Corbyn, even as they continue their established policy of refusing to condemn his supporters when they are caught promoting anti-semitic slurs.
Now we have the grim sight of the UK’s three largest Jewish newspapers – the Jewish Chronicle, Jewish Telegraph and Jewish News – publishing a joint front-page editorial to express their concern about ‘the existential threat to Jewish life in this country that would be posed by a Jeremy Corbyn-led government.’ The papers point to ‘a clear and present danger that a man with a default blindness to the Jewish community’s fears, a man who has a problem seeing that hateful rhetoric aimed at Israel can easily step into antisemitism, could be our next prime minister.’
I’ll repeat that: ‘An existential threat.’
That such outlets feel such a statement, printed in unity across competing newspapers, is necessary is simply breathtaking. As we have written before on this site, many times in recent years, the return of the old evil of anti-semitism to mainstream British politics is an obscenity and a stain on the nation.
That the left has not prevented that return is troubling enough. That parts of that movement, including too many of those who count themselves enthusiastic supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, refuse to even accept that there is such a problem is even more worrying. That the man himself pays lip service to opposing – altogether now – “anti-semitism and all other forms of racism” but has not used his huge influence to either purge those followers of this hatred or purge his party of these followers is an out-and-out disgrace.
The excuses have become dully predictable. The whataboutery, the bogus claims that what is being described is simply legitimate criticism of Israeli policy, the allegations of lies, the doubling down by claiming concern over anti-semitism is all a plot orchestrated by wealthy and influential special interests, and so on, and so on. The valiant people who fight on through such thickets of nonsense every day deserve our backing, including those on the left who have refused to allow intimidation and party tribalism to silence their support for what they know to be right.
What we cannot allow is for this hatred itself to become dully predictable, too. This poison may be widespread, but it is not normal. We may see it daily, but it is not everyday. It must not ever become so.