Thursday, November 28, 2019

More of Jeremy Corbyn refusing to denounce antisemitism in the Labour Party

David Aaronovitch, a columnist for the Times of London, writes about another thing that Corbyn refused to denounce: the statement by a Liam Moore, a Labour candidate for a local council seat, who wrote that "People, understand Rothschilds Zionists run Israel and world governments."
It came when [Andrew] Neil put to Mr Corbyn that the Chief Rabbi had not been wrong to dispute Labour’s claims that antisemitism in the party had been dealt with. The example Neil gave was one reported here in the JC last year. The council candidate for a ward in Liverpool, Liam Moore, had tweeted “Rothschilds Zionists run Israel and world governments”....
Neil to Corbyn:  Let me ask you this. Is it antisemitic to say Rothschild’s Zionists run Israel and world governments? 
JC: In the Chakrabarti report we asked that people did not use comparisons about conspiracies, not use… 
AN: Is that antisemitic? 
JC: …because in the belief of Shami, and I support her on this in that report, that can be constructed as being an antisemitic statement and therefore – and therefore should not be -– 
AN: Right, but let’s just get it clear. I asked you – I gave you a specific quote. Are the words ‘Rothschild’s Zionists run Israel and world government’. Is that antisemitic? 
JC: It should not be used and it is. 
AN: But you can’t say it’s antisemitic? 
JC: Look, I just said that it should not be used. 
Finally, painfully, he allowed that it was “an antisemitic trope”. Neil banked that and asked, so if the Chief Rabbi was wrong, why was Moore still in the party? After a short eternity of bluster (the transcript makes almost unbearable reading) Corbyn finally answered “Look, I don’t know the process that is involved with him.”....
The man, a Labour council candidate, tweets out neo-nazi conspiracy theories about Jews, is then endorsed as a candidate by his local party, his antisemitism is described as “inappropriate”, a year later is still in the party and the party leader and putative prime minister, under intense criticism for just this, says “Look, I don’t know the process that is involved with him.” And, of course, there are plenty of others.

Jeremy Corbyn failing to apologize to the British Jewish community

Jeremy Corbyn, painfully refusing to apologize for antisemitism in the British Labour Party.

Andrew Neil - Wouldn't you like to take this opportunity, tonight, to apologize to the British Jewish community for what's happened? 
Jeremy Corbyn: What I'll is this - I am determined that our society will be safe for people of all faiths. I don't want anyone to be feeling insecure in our society and our government will protect every community. 
Neil: So no apology? 
Corbyn: Against the abuse they receive on the streets, on the trains... 
Neil: So no apology? 
Corbyn: or in any other form of life 
Neil: Try one more time. No apology. 
Corbyn: Andrew, Andrew, Can I explain what we're trying to do? 
Neil: You have, and you've been given plenty of time to do it. I asked you if you wanted to apologize 
Corbyn: We don't want anyone to go through what anyone has gone through 
Neil: And you've said that several times. I understand that Mr. Corbyn. I was asking you about an apology.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

A Response to the Chief Rabbi's statement

Jim Dedham of Shiraz Socialist (and Workers Liberty) has a good response to the Chief Rabbi's statement and Jeremy Corbyn's disastrous interview on the BBC:
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis is certainly a small-‘c’ conservative on both political and theological matters. And he congratulated Boris Johnson on becoming Prime Minister (though it’s worth noting that religious leaders are expected to offer congratulations and promises of prayer to incoming prime ministers). 
Whether or not Mirvis is a Tory is not the issue. 
The most senior rabbi in British Orthodox Jewry has made an unprecedented intervention into party politics, warning that “the very soul of our nation is at stake” and that Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to tackle antisemitism within Labour means he is unfit to be prime minister. While Mirvis stopped short of endorsing any other party or using language as explicit as that used by Jonathan Romain, a senior Reform rabbi, who urged his congregants to vote tactically to defeat Labour, the message is clear: don’t vote Labour. 
Rightly or wrongly, close to 85 per cent of British Jews (according to the polls) believe that Labour has become an antisemitic party under Corbyn and that he himself is an antisemite. 
Corbyn’s supporters (including some Jews) point to his record as a “life-long” opponent of “all forms of racism”, but the fact remains that under his leadership the majority of British Jews have become alienated from Labour and the party is under investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission following claims of “institutional” antisemitism.
He makes an interesting point, which I hadn't considered before, that what he calls the "absolute anti-Zionism" of the far left (organizations like the British Socialist Workers Party, the SWP) is a form of political antisemitism. It's not merely opposing the discriminatory policies of the state of Israel towards Arab citizens, general criticism of the government, or opposition to the Israeli occupation - it goes much further than that, to a belief that the state of Israel should never even have been established.

Read the whole article - he eventually comes out supporting a vote for the Labour Party in the upcoming election on December 12, but he's fully aware of why most Jews will not be voting Labour.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Chief Rabbi of Britain: What Will Become of Jews in Britain if Labour forms the next government?

The British Chief Rabbi has just weighed in on the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn. This is his statement, published in The Times. For those without a subscription, here's the whole article (link is at

Ephraim Mirvis: What will become of Jews in Britain if Labour forms the next government?

Elections should be a celebration of democracy. However, just weeks before we go to the polls, the overwhelming majority of British Jews are gripped by anxiety.

During the past few years, on my travels through the UK and further afield, one concern has been expressed to me more than any other. Of course, the threats of the far right and violent jihadism never go away, but the question I am now most frequently asked is: What will become of Jews and Judaism in Britain if the Labour Party forms the next government?

This anxiety is justified. Raising concerns about anti-Jewish racism in the context of a general election ranks among the most painful moments I have experienced since taking office. Convention dictates that the Chief Rabbi stays well away from party politics — and rightly so. However, challenging racism is not a matter of politics, it goes well beyond that. Wherever there is evidence of it, including in any of our political parties, it must be swiftly rooted out. Hateful prejudice is always wrong, whoever the perpetrator, whoever the victim.

The Jewish community has endured the deep discomfort of being at the centre of national political attention for nearly four years. We have been treated by many as an irritant, as opposed to a minority community with genuine concerns. Some politicians have shown courage but too many have sat silent. We have learned the hard way that speaking out means that we will be demonised by faceless social media trolls and accused of being partisan or acting in bad faith by those who still think of this as an orchestrated political smear. Yet, I ask myself: should the victims of racism be silenced by the fear of yet further vilification?

Therefore, with the heaviest of hearts, I call upon the citizens of our great country to study what has been unfolding before our very eyes.

The Jewish community has watched with incredulity as supporters of the Labour leadership have hounded parliamentarians, members and even staff out of the party for challenging anti-Jewish racism. Even as they received threats, the response of the Labour leadership was utterly inadequate. We have endured quibbling and prevarication over whether the party should adopt the most widely accepted definition of antisemitism. Now we await the outcome of a formal investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission into whether discrimination by the party against Jews has become an institutional problem. And all of this while in opposition. What should we expect of them in government?

The way in which the leadership has dealt with anti-Jewish racism is incompatible with the British values of which we are so proud — of dignity and respect for all people. It has left many decent Labour members both Jewish and non-Jewish, ashamed of what has transpired.

The claims that the party is “doing everything” it reasonably can to tackle anti-Jewish racism and that it has “investigated every single case”, are a mendacious fiction. According to the Jewish Labour Movement, there are at least 130 outstanding cases before the party, some dating back years, and thousands more have been reported but remain unresolved.

The party leadership have never understood that their failure is not just one of procedure, which can be remedied with additional staff or new processes. It is a failure to see this as a human problem rather than a political one. It is a failure of culture. It is a failure of leadership. A new poison – sanctioned from the top – has taken root in the Labour Party.

Many members of the Jewish community can hardly believe that this is the same party that they called their political home for more than a century. It can no longer claim to be the party of equality and anti-racism.

How far is too far? How complicit in prejudice would a leader of Her Majesty’s opposition have to be to be considered unfit for office? Would associations with those who have incited hatred against Jews be enough? Would describing as “friends” those who endorse the murder of Jews be enough? It seems not.

It is not my place to tell any person how they should vote. I regret being in this situation at all. I simply pose the question: What will the result of this election say about the moral compass of our country? When December 12 arrives, I ask every person to vote with their conscience. Be in no doubt, the very soul of our nation is at stake.

Ephraim Mirvis is Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth

Dr. Mark Falcon Lesses - two scientific articles

My grandfather, Dr. Mark Falcon Lesses, published a number of research articles over the year. In the same box with his certificate from the UJA in 1948, I found offprints of some of the articles. These are the first pages of two of them.

The first one, tititled "Hyperparathyroidism with Nephrolithiasis" (New England Journal of Medicine, 1949), is a case study of a young woman who suffered from a high fever and urinary tract infection. It turned out that she had kidney stones which were a consequence of hyperparathyroidism. One of the symptoms of hyperparathyroidism can be kidney stones because of the high calcium levels associated with this syndrome. She was in and out of the hospital, and treated unsuccessfully many times with antibiotics and removal of the kidney stones, until the misbehaving parathyroid was found and removed.

The second article is titled "Treatment of Thyroid Carcinoma with Radioactive Iodine (I 131)," from the American Journal of Medicine, 1951. I haven't read it yet so I can't provide my layperson's summary of it.

My grandfather's award for "Distinguished Service to the Jewish People"

I'm visiting family in Massachusetts now, and I was looking through a box that contained old photos and other documents about or by my grandfather, Mark Falcon Lesses. I found a certificate from 1948 commending him for "Distinguished Service to the Jewish People" for helping to raise funds for the United Jewish Appeal. (And 1948, of course, was the year that the State of Israel came into existence).

United Jewish Appeal

Certificate of Award
For Distinguished Service to the Jewish People
presented to

Dr. Mark Falcon Lesses
In sincere appreciation of his devotion and selfless effort which contributed greatly to the success of our 1948 campaign in behalf of the 
In a year of destiny, his notable service helped American Jewry play an historic role in the establishment of the State of Israel, in the beginning of a new era of hope and reconstruction for the Jews of Europe and in strengthening the foundations of Jewish life at home.