Jewish caller tells Shelagh Fogarty why anti-Semitism has found its way into Labour party

7 November 2019, 15:44

This Jewish caller tells Shelagh why anti-Semitism has found its way in to the Labour party rhetoric.

Jason is a British Jew but went to live in Jerusalem a decade ago because while at university, "I'm afraid I saw even then the seeds of what we're seeing now.

"For a long time, the British media has not given a fair voice to Israel," he said, "I don't think you can be surprised when you end up with a mass movement within a mainstream political party that has no appreciation for the concerns or the sensitivities of that community."

Jason, who called from Jerusalem, said the more pressing concern is that anti-Semitism has become a "party political issue".

"The rights and freedoms of Jews to live in the UK securely and with freedom should not be a political debate like the NHS and raising taxation. This should be a given and it's not now," he said, and called the issue a political football whereby people who are Jewish don't feel able to vote Labour.

"We're now debating as part of our key political debate around this election, the rights and freedoms of an ethnic community in the UK - what's happened? This is 2019!" said Jason.

Jason recounted the nature of prejudice in his university days in the early 2000s, which was a time of "Palestinian terrorism, suicide bombings, killing people on the street."

Chris Williamson lost a high court bid to be reinstated to the Labour party last month after accusations of downplaying anti-Semitism
Chris Williamson lost a high court bid to be reinstated to the Labour party last month after accusations of downplaying anti-Semitism. Picture: PA

He repeated, "The British media response in general was not favourable to Israel."

Shelagh pointed out there is both positive and negative journalism and media; when working for the BBC during this period she said it was a "constant battle to cover any story that related to Israel, to Gaza, to terrorism, to the politics around it." The consideration of coverage was "meticulous."

"Whether it was fair or not, there was a constant very negative view in the media towards Israel felt at the time and it was voiced at the time," Jason said.

"It shouldn't be a surprise to wake up and find that anti-Jewish narrative has found its way into the rhetoric. The entire system accepting that to the point it's become a political football is even more disturbing."

Jewish people could wake up on 13 December with Jeremy Corbyn as the Prime Minister, merely two weeks before Hanukkah, a time to celebrate "Jewish family and Jewish pride", Jason said.

"Jewish families in the UK are going to be lighting their candles with their children and wondering if they're going to be doing that again in the UK a year later."