I sometimes like to consider myself sceptical, seasoned, surprised by nothing. Then somebody like Britain’s Chief Rabbi pops up and I realize I’m still easily shocked and dismayed. And angered. Ephraim Mirvis says he doesn’t want to tell people how to vote, then gives them a long list of reasons for not voting Labour.
Among the things he damns Jeremy Corbyn for is that he endorses as “friends…people who murder Jews.” He’s referring to Hamas and Hezbollah, groups who are opposed to the state of Israel.
Now. Except you are blind, deaf and dumb you will know that the role of the state of Israel in the Middle East is a shameful one. In the first place it was established by a strategy with which we in Ireland are familiar: they kicked the people living on the land off it. Since then, rather than try to form positive relationships with its neighbours, Israel has opted instead for iron-fisted repression.
It is an open secret that Israel possesses nuclear weapons – but when’s the last time you heard President Trump call for sanctions against Israel for this development? Or any other American president? They haven’t. In fact they have seen to it that Israel is equipped with the latest war technology and arms of all kinds.
Meanwhile the people of Palestine are living in squalor in what has been described as the world’s largest open-air prison. Israeli soldiers shoot and kill Palestinian children on a regular basis, and the world looks on.
That’s not to say that resistance groups like Hamas and Hezbollah haven’t been guilty of brutality and killing. But to paint the problem of the Middle East as the problem of Hamas and Hesbollah’s existence is a lie.
Which brings us back to the Chief Rabbi of Britain. When he damns Jeremy Corbyn, it is because of his stance on Israel, not on Jews in general. There is a difference – a huge difference. Anyone who cares about human rights should condemn Israel for what it has done and continues to do to Palestinians. But for the Chief Rabbi then to paint that as hatred of Jews – as distinct from the policies and actions of the Israeli government – is deliberately to smear the Labour leader, who has all his life condemned racism of any kind.
Acting as the cherry on top of this deliberately poisoned cake, Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has come out and supported the words of the Chief Rabbi.
The British establishment must be very afraid of a party leader who isn’t afraid to speak the truth – and the truth has never been anti-Semitic.