This was originally posted as a personal reflection, but the editorial team approached me after reading, and we thought it might find a different, perhaps wider audience on The Norwich Radical.
I’ve been finding it harder and harder to stay silent on the lead up to this general election. Not only because I feel that it’ll be a major defining moment in the history of the UK – which it will; for anyone who’s not registered to vote yet, please do so here – but because every time I think about saying what I think I get hopelessly tangled up in the mess of being both Jewish and a leftist.
I don’t think I’ll be saying anything that hasn’t been said before (and better) elsewhere. I’ve seen Jewish friends on my timeline struggle with this too – only mildly comforting – and whichever way you slice it, this one’s weird. But hear me out! Jews and non-Jews alike.
The bottom line is: Jewish people are scared, we feel at risk.
I’m a leftist because I’m Jewish. I’m a leftist because I’ve been told stories of resisting bullies and oppression, and because I’ve been taught to stay inquisitive, to challenge authority, to ask how we can do better. And that’s why I don’t want to see a Conservative government in power on 13th December. I find Boris Johnson and everything he stands for repulsive and unconscionable, and truly believe that a world in which he is prime minister would be uglier, more hostile and more hopeless – as we’ve already seen him in this role
And that goes for most of us. British Jews, too! Many of whom are working class, and just as hurt by the austerity of the last decade, and the sky-high tuition fees, and cuts to the NHS – like literally everyone else. Because the Jews who live in this country… live in this country, at the end of the day. A Labour government would benefit all of us.
And I’m not saying this because I don’t think the Labour Party has an issue with antisemitism. The figures that have been floating around recently should be concerning for ALL of us, Jews and non-Jews alike. 85% of British Jews are concerned about a Corbyn win and, whether you think that comes from ‘manipulation by the media’ or from genuine fear, that worries me, personally, and should worry everyone who considers themselves an ally and a supporter of Jewish people. The bottom line is: Jewish people are scared, we feel at risk. And the number of Corbyn fanboys I’ve seen that were happy to dismiss that fear – not just dismiss it, but actively disprove it, patronisingly and often with a weirdly gleeful kind of aggression – makes me not only concerned but increasingly alienated from an ideology I support and believe in.
Antisemitism is endemic and institutional.
I should be clear: Labour has a problem with antisemitism, and so do the Tories, and probably so would the Lib Dems if they had any kind of ideological or moral backbone. Antisemitism is endemic and institutional. Just because the Tories make nice and shake hands doesn’t preclude them from the same antisemitic tendencies that non-Jews are susceptible to. And we can all ignore the fact that the Tories regularly deal with Saudi Arabia, and that they have members, candidates in fact, who are holocaust deniers, or who have advocated for labour camps in this very election season. And we can also ignore the fact that Boris Johnson and the Tories have a disturbing track record of bigotry, islamophobia, misogyny, racism, and pretend that they couldn’t as easily turn that hate on us as soon as they’re done using us for political gain, as if those aren’t bad enough as it stands now. We could ignore all that, but what good will it do? And where will it get us?
What we need is a national, open-minded, good-faith conversation about institutional antisemitism and how we can tackle it together.I think that’s a conversation that will be far better had under a social, progressive Labour government than under a self-centred, racist, backwards, cynical fucking idiot.
Featured image by Sara Harrington
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