A few words on horseradish and antisemitism…

So many words are being spent on antisemitism in Labour. Here are a few more.

Is this really a thing or just another example of modern media hysteria? Well, it’s not nothing, whatever the fans of Jeremy Corbyn insist on social media, with their jokey/aggressive memes mocking the very idea of their man being any sort of a racist.

But is Jeremy Corbyn any sort of a racist? Er, no – even his worst enemies must concede that point.

So does he have a problem or is it all a right-wing media conspiracy? Well, he does have a problem because the hostile headlines are akin to a media version of the nerve agent used in Wiltshire. Salisbury is said to face months of decontamination; and the Labour Party might face a similar period of cleansing.

If Corbyn is not any sort of a racist, what’s the problem? Well, his politics are set and nothing will change that. Allied to that, he has difficulties criticising anyone on the left (hence an allegiance to the left-wing version of Russia that no longer exists). And his judgement is sometimes not entirely sound.

But does he deserve this morning’s headline: “How low can you get, Mr Corbyn”? I can’t be bothered naming the newspaper as it’s easy to get obsessed. Is that headline reasonable? No, of course it isn’t, or it wouldn’t have ended up on the page.

The cause of that scolding headline was Corbyn’s decision to attend a Passover event hosted by a left-wing Jewish group highly critical of mainstream Jewish bodies. He took part in the seder, the traditional meal of the Jewish festival, organised by Jewdas, which confronts mainstream Jewish opinion, as represented by the Jewish Board of Deputies and others.

Corbyn is reported to have taken along horseradish from his allotment, a key ingredient for the meal. That’s rather sweet in a jam-making, grow-your-own way. Whether attending such an event at the height of a row about antisemitism was wise is a matter as fiery as that horseradish.

Plenty of his own MPs are not impressed, but Corbyn remains typically defiant, saying: “I learned a lot. Isn’t that a good thing?”

He attended privately, apparently not telling party officials, and is said to have enjoyed meeting young left-wing Jews.

The group itself says: “The truth is that we love Judaism and Jewish culture, as every one of our events demonstrate. To claim that we in Jewdas are somehow ‘not real Jews’ is offensive, and frankly antisemitic.”

On Twitter the Jewish comedian David Baddiel wrote of Jewdas: “They are just Jews who disagree with other Jews. Which means: Jews … To make out that it’s somehow antisemitic for him to spend Seder with them just because they’re far left is balls.”

Well, yes – easy to agree with that smart contribution. But was Corbyn’s judgement awry in attending such an event at the height of a row about antisemitism? He certainly turned a deaf ear to the consequences, but that’s always been his character, for good or ill.

The Daily Mirror cautions that the controversy is merely an example of “political opportunism”. Another fair point. But this is also an example of how a situation can spin out of control.

In conclusion: all this is not nothing, but it’s not the ‘something’ it’s cracked up to be. Less than helpful, I know, but there you go.

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