For the past several weeks I had been posting on Facebook and tweeting about the general election. “Typical North American rabbi,” is the natural response. “They all get heated up over politics.” To be sure, I’d like to make something abundantly clear for the record. As a rabbi I rarely speak about politics from the pulpit or indeed talk about it in any other forum. Much as it is all too commonplace in the States, I fundamentally disagree with doing so. For one, I will invariably alienate those who hold an opposing view – and for some people, politics rates right up there with religion. For another, I don’t vote in the UK elections – I don’t even have a British passport (yes I know, I know – save it).
But in this particular instance I spoke out, not because of politics but because of my future as a Jew in this country.
Rarely if ever has there been a scenario where the choice was between one of democracy and one of chaos. Mr Corbyn’s track record as a Hamas sympathiser, as an IRA supporter, as an apparent terrorist enabler (weeks before the 7/7 bombings he ranted about “terror hysteria” and then apparently said the Islamist murderers were “denied hope and opportunity”) and as someone whom it is alleged by those close to him, has a problem with Jews – the choice was clear: A future of stability and security or one of increased anti-Semitism – which is already so manifest in his party – and unruliness.
I remain especially perturbed by the fact that two Jews stood for Labour in staunchly Jewish districts. I challenged one, Mike Katz, when chairing a hustings evening several weeks ago. His reply was, “I can only effect change from the inside.” The thinking defies logic. When Corbyn’s own party voted overwhelmingly no confidence in him, it forced a leadership election which he won. How much less likely was anyone going to “effect change” if he is voted in as prime minister. I maintain for each vote those two took for Labour they contributed to the ever-increasing general hate in the UK, and anti-Semitism in particular.
I’d like to think Labour lost because Corbyn is at the helm and that he will never see power.
But we came precariously close. If we should find ourselves here again, sooner than we expect, then it is incumbent upon all to do the necessary. It will make all the difference to you as a Jew, to you as a citizen who believes in democracy, and to keeping the “Great” in Britain.