Jeremy Corbyn held a small rally last night in east London, telling supporters to go and spread the message of ‘socialism, which is about hope’. Many British Jews will have woken up this morning feeling anything but hope. They have seen a Labour party led by a man who many consider to be a harbinger of left-wing anti-Semitism. A man who has found it hard to accept that there is even a problem within his own party.
This is why almost half of British Jews have said they would consider leaving this country if Jeremy Corbyn becomes prime minister on Friday. A truly appalling statistic. So how, then, might one expect some of the supporters of this man to behave when confronted by upset and dispossessed activists, hoping to share their fears? One might hope (that word again) they would adopt an air of quiet humility. Not a bit of it.
Instead, they were hounded, shouted at and abused. One man began screaming at the Jewish activists that he was ‘pissed off with people who piss on six million graves’. The police then had to intervene to try and calm him down.
Even if Jeremy Corbyn loses today’s election and steps down, as some have predicted will happen, this problem seems unlikely to go away. Anti-Semitism within the party is clearly endemic (this is not even the first incident of Jewish hatred at a Corbyn rally this week). And while anti-Semitism is a feature of broader British society, research shows it is on the rise particularly on the far-left. Given that voting is already underway, it seems all British Jews can do now is hope.