Jeremy Corbyn attended a politicised Passover Seder service held by a fringe Jewish group called Jewdas. Up until three days ago many people had not heard of Jewdas and I imagine that they are thankful for all the publicity they have been given. Jewdas are agitators, which is why Jeremy Corbyn would probably feel at home with them. A small group of people on the fringes of a community, pushing terms such as ‘f..k capitalism’ and ‘f..k the monarch’. It probably reminded Corbyn of days when he was young and free enough to join in with those type of chants. #nostalgia
The post isn’t really about Jewdas or the Seder, but both must be addressed. It must be noted that Jewdas isn’t everyone who was at the Seder ceremony. In some ways they are like a novelty act and people like to watch. It is also important to state that the uproar had nothing to do with Jewdas and everything to do with Corbyn. Jeremy Corbyn had either thought through the decision to attend the Jewdas Seder or he had not.
Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t think it through
The Labour Party is in the midst of a crisis over persistent charges of antisemitism. This problem has plagued Jeremy Corbyn since he became leader of the Labour Party. The latest outbreak began when news of Jeremy Corbyn’s association with antisemitic Facebook group, Palestine Live, was broken on this blog. Jeremy Corbyn is leader of the opposition party and should be working to heal rifts, and bring people together. I personally believe the ideological gulf is too wide, but let us assume Jeremy Corbyn cannot buy into this theory. Let us believe that he wants to mend a seriously fractured relationship. Therefore choosing to extend a hand to a group that has dismissed *SOME* or *MUCH* of the Labour Party antisemitism issue as political smearing was seriously misguided.
At a time when most of the Jewish community is seriously concerned about antisemitism inside the party, it is hard to suggest meeting this group was a well informed choice:
Jeremy Corbyn thinks it through (the Jewdas Gambit)
Unless of course, it was a well-informed choice. Events since can support the idea that this was done with the knowledge that the Jewish mainstream would react harshly. It would be naive to suggest that this was not considered. Which would make the event a very well played, and well thought out example of a divide-and-rule strategy. The hard-left box of tricks is always one to be both feared and admired. Corbyn goes to the event, the Jewish community leadership responds and in the end, onlookers scratch their heads. They begin to believe the entire antisemitism issue is an internal Jewish disagreement. As I write, new articles appear hourly, as the idea of ‘good Jew’ and ‘bad Jew’ is torn apart.
This isn’t a conspiracy theory, and there is no need for Jewdas to be active participants. This could have been Corbyn’s team looking for a way to offset or partially defuse the antisemitism crisis. The question ‘to go’ or ‘not to go’, must have been raised. A list of ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ must also have been discussed. Corbyn cannot be so stupid as to not know by now, major divisions exist between the small groups of Jews in his camp, and the rest of the Jewish community.
What a week ago was a focus on antisemitism in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, has now become blunted by a mess of badly targeted and misinformed articles. A bemused non-Jewish population cannot understand exactly what is going on. As a personal and direct message to Corbyn’s team – if it were planned that way, then I take my hat off to you.
Jewdas are provocative, satirical and love people talking about them. Their recent ‘official’ Haggadah takes a major swipe at everything establishment Jews would consider precious. They first burst onto the scene with a leaflet for a party titled ‘Protocols of the Elders of Hackney‘ in 2006. They had further trouble after sending a hoax email that ‘cancelled a Board of Deputies pro-Israel rally’ in 2009. Even with an extreme distaste for their politics, I find some of their repartee highly amusing. There is something distinctly ‘Jewish’ about Jewdas.
However if Jewdas were serious about fighting antisemitism, they would view the deflective uproar over Corbyn’s attendance as a problem. Instead they are climbing on top of it all to score additional political points. But then it would be difficult to expect Jewdas to take anything seriously. It is almost against their nature.
The publicity increased their Twitter following by over 12k in two days, and many of their new followers are hostile to Jewish people as a whole. Suffering from an inability to understand the nuances in Jewish groups, hard-core antisemites now view Jewdas with the same favour they see the far more toxic JVL.
As a community we know Jewdas are part of a fringe. They themselves know they are fringe. In two recent Jewish student union elections, they have failed miserably to make an impact. Eran Cohen in 2016 failed to get 9% of the vote. This despite a social media recruitment effort looking for self-identifying Jews to register with UJS in time for the election:
In 2017 Annie Cohen, Eran’s sister also ran in the UJS election. Annie also failed to get more than 9% of the vote. If you think this is unimportant you are wrong. Both are Jewdas members and this is a key Jeremy Corbyn demographic, the students. If the type of Jewish anti-Zionist politics Jewdas represents has minimal following even in the student youth, their actual representation amongst the community as a whole is likely to be statistically negligible. So any attempt to suggest this is a young against old situation is pushing well-oiled Corbynite propaganda:
But I will get back to this point because it is important.
Writing articles about the Jewish community is like crossing a minefield and never goes well. It is why I do not envy the role of people like Stephen Pollard or Justin Cohen. Every sentence you write ‘loses’ some of the people who read the article. As I am known for being ‘wordy’, my chances of coming out unscathed are never good. Apologies in advance to all those I am about to offend.
A community response can never be unified. The whole concept of ‘Jews as a people’, inherently suggests an entire spectrum of thought can be found inside. This is a Zionist approach and whether Jewdas like it or not, I include them in my body of ‘Zionist’ thought. The very underpinning of Zionism, the idea of a people without a state, suggests that within that body of people will also be those that vehemently disagree with everything that ‘is’ and wish to bring the entire edifice down. It doesn’t matter if it sounds counter-intuitive, from a Zionist perspective, an ‘anti-Zionist Jew‘ is almost an oxymoron.
When any action takes place that displeases the centre ground, thus statistically capturing the majority of the community, response can be reflexive, self-harming and uncontrolled. As a rule, the more complex and nuanced the problem, the more self-harming the inevitable response becomes. When dealing with a peculiarity like Jewdas, there is almost no way to stop criticism coming from those who cannot differentiate the tiny groups on the far-left. In other words, when people confuse the ‘Judean People’s Front’ with the ‘Judean Popular People’s Front‘, it is always going to get messy. This awful article appeared in the Jewish Chronicle April 3rd, actually suggesting Jewdas are a ‘source of virulent antisemitism‘.
Jewdas are nothing of the sort. There are groups on the far-left this could be applied to, but we have to distinguish properly if we are to present a coherent argument. As I said, self-harm comes with the territory.
The hard-left and the abuse of statistics
Returning to an earlier point. One of the most often used propaganda tools is to suggest the ‘young Jews’ are disenfranchised by an ageing and disconnected leadership.
The results of recent UJS elections suggests this is highly deceptive, and a rather bitter and twisted way to attack a mainstream that seems to represent over 90% of voting Jewish students. But this type of propaganda is not new. Recently, I was directed by Robert Cohen to a Mondoweiss article:
It is an article that deals with young disenchanted Jews and blames most of it on Israel. Jewdas play the same game:
This is pointing the finger of blame on Israel for a problem that has dogged the Jewish community ever since emancipation. It is almost as if they are dancing on the issues of assimilation, waving it proudly in the air. It is a problem deeply felt by all religious communities, not just Jewish ones, that in turn do not have an Israel to blame.
Dancing on community problems
Traditionally, the Jewish community ‘loses’ a percentage of its youth through assimilation. This is not a ‘Zionist’ related issue at all. If you compare old to young in surveys, the statistics become distorted. The old who identified as Jewish are people who didn’t assimilate, whilst any ‘youth’ figure will contain a % of Jews who will during their lifetime, leave the community. In effect you are not comparing like to like. It is little surprise then, that at any given point, older Jews statistically are more conservative, more Zionist and practice more religious traditions that younger ones. It would be a social phenomena if this were not the case.
If you simply compare the statistic of the older Jewish population with that of the younger generation and suggest it is all ‘Israel’s fault’, you are twisting Jewish community issues for your own ideological purposes.
Taken from a New York Times article ..
All of the community issues that are familiar to us. Not religious, marry outside of the faith, and not raising their children Jewish. None of this is Israel’s fault, but it is a convenient scapegoat for some on the left, and certainly the Anti-Zionists use it as propaganda. I don’t expect anyone outside of the community to grasp this properly, and these statistics are used and abused by ideological propagandists to say something they don’t say.
There is no community split
You will not split the Jewish (Diaspora) community from Israel, although the size of the Jewish community may well continue to disintegrate. Those leaning to the hard-left are least likely to go to synagogue, marry someone Jewish, raise their children Jewish or sympathise with Israel, so statistically 100 Zionist Jews today will produce a higher level of children who adhere to the Jewish faith, than anti-Zionist Jews.
A generation on, most AZ offspring, if brought up Jewish at all, will be almost fully assimilated, whilst Jewish Zionist children will again split between Zionist offspring and a % of new anti-Zionists ‘rebels’. It is a circle, but an ever decreasing one. An anti-Zionist Jew (apart from oddities like Jewdas and the small ultra orthodox cult) is highly likely to be one or two generations away from the family leaving the community entirely.
All of the statistics support this notion. Outside of ultra-orthodox Jewry the correlation between religious and community activity and Israel is almost absolute. Where it weakens, the religious and community aspect weakens too. On the far left fringe is a small group of people who try to build hybrids of one sort or another, that may be temporarily attractive to some of those ‘on their way out’.
In reality Jewish people have always had a % who leave the community. It was going on way before 1948. Until a few decades ago, these people left quietly. Today they get the opportunity to spit on the community on the way out. As some of our youth reject our customs and our faith, their need to belong to wider society will also see them reject Israel. Today it is the fashionable way to leave the community. Israel is there, safe, secure, and 100 years from now, the offspring of these AZ’s may not even know they had a Jewish ancestor.
So why do we continue to hug these people and seek ways to address their alienation? Why is the community so desperate to hang onto those who are willing to harm the community with spiteful actions? It is simple, because these people are our children. These people are not abstract opponents, they are members of our family. So they will be given as many chances as we have to give them, to try to bring them back on board. Understandable, natural and fraught with inherent danger. However serious that danger may be we still have little choice but to try.
Good Jews – Bad Jews
One of the traits of hard-left propaganda is to accuse the opposition of the very thing they are guilty of the most. The idea of ‘good-Jew, bad-Jew’ is a perfect example. Since the uproar over Jewdas, it has been claimed Zionist Jews are choosing which Jews are good, and which are bad.
The central position of anti-Zionist Jews is to suggest that ‘Jew’ does not equal ‘Zionist’. This is the pillar upon which their entire platform stands. I have lost count of the number of times I have seen an anti-Zionist Jew explain that they are the ‘good-Jews’ that must not be confused with the ‘bad ones’ (Zionists).
Rationalwiki even has a section on it:
And finally, of course there are bad Jews. Our history is littered with examples of Jews who aligned with the enemy and those who deliberately harmed the community. We may not have the right to say who is a Jew and who is not, but we can certainly look at actions some Jewish people take, and consider them dangers to the wider Jewish community. You cannot spend your time protecting hard-core antisemites and then get angry when you are attacked by the mainstream Jewish community. Well you can try, but I doubt anyone will listen. Nor should they.
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