On 27 April, the ostensibly progressive Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) issued a statement worthy of a cult decree. Responding to what they deemed to be Naz Shah’s ‘repugnant’ remarks, and following her public humiliation in parliament, they faux-magnanimously accepted her apology, and declared that Shah is now on a ‘journey’ that consists ominously of ‘a programme of education’ (see ‘Preposterous liar’ Jeremy Newmark re-educates Naz Shah):
Her contrition expressed over the past day seems to be genuine and sincere. This is part of that journey. We are optimistic that she will now take steps to deepen her understanding of Jewish identity. We do not ask or expect her to mute her criticism of the actions and policies of the Israeli government. We do ask and expect her to build upon her apology and contrition with a programme of education and action that includes standing up to anti-Semitism on the left and within the Palestine Solidarity Movement.
Shah must now be their eyes and ears within the Palestine solidarity movement. The task falls to Shah, it being understood that JLM plays no role in fighting for Palestinian human rights.
Having thereby attributed to Shah’s harmless historic comments a sinister import, and in doing so contributed to the media hysteria over antisemitism lurking in every dark corner of the Labour party, JLM Vice-Chair Sarah Sackman today asks the public to vote for Labour. Anyway. ‘We must stay and ﬁght inside.’ Assuming that ‘inside’ is a McCarthyite zone.
Writing in the Jewish Chronicle, Sackman refers gravely to Labour’s ‘devastating horror show’ that has ‘been brewing’. Says that ‘Jews have been forced into an agonising corner,’ and briefly alluding to ‘tikkun olam’, proceeds to offer the cure to this terrible disease: JLM will facilitate a purge of the party:
We will scrutinise the inquiries into antisemitism and ensure they do not paper over the problem. We will argue for a programme of education for party officers and members and support our allies in the Party to re-shape it.
This political strategy is perverse in the extreme. Much has been written about the attempt by the centre-left to destabilise the Corbyn leadership – to effect a sort of coup. But surely Jewish Labour Movement can recognise that the public now feels repulsed: either by what they perceive to be a party full of anti-Semites, or by the increasingly transparent and cynical campaign to smear it.