August 21, 2015 by Dr Alan Maddison @alanmaddison20 Author by PoliticalSiftPosted in Guest Posts in WordPress.com
I asked Dr Sam Glatt, a retired Jewish GP, for his reflections on the relentless mediatised attacks on Jeremy Corbyn as either being anti-Semitic or not doing enough to discourage it amongst his supporters. Sam happens to be a Jeremy Corbyn supporter and a friend of mine.
Sam, like many other Corbyn supporters are understandably dismayed at what they see as this ‘smear campaign’ with no convincing basis in fact, against this man of principle and peace who has fought racism throughout his career. They see their hopes being hi-jacked by these attacks. Some Corbyn supporters have launched a campaign publishing photographs of many other British politicians with characters such as Pinochet (allegedly involved in state torture and murder), members of the Saudi royal family (allegedly involved in sponsoring ISIL and ignoring human rights) with the heading ‘Guilty by Association’ to make their point.
‘Twitter’ exchanges about Corbyn’s meetings with those who encourage terrorism, have not been very helpful. The fact that Corbyn has never encouraged, nor condoned violence, and for decades has been a genuine promoter of peace, cuts no ice with certain right-wing Jewish critics. Neither has it helped when Corbyn explains that in order to have peace you have to talk to people whose views you do not share, as was necessary for Northern Ireland. Nor does is help that he thinks the Holocaust was the most vile event in history or that he says he is not anti-Semitic.
Last night I went to see my friend Sam, a wise old (89 years) Jewish friend. Sam is a very intelligent and thoughtful man whom I admire enormously. I was interested in getting his reflections on this disturbing conflict of views regarding the claims that Corbyn is an anti-Semite or indiectly encourages anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.
Sam told me that father was a refugee from Hungary in 1900 and his family lived in the East End of London. They were very poor and not always treated well by the local ‘gentiles’, but Sam said it was a case of a punch in the face rather than a knife attack as can happen to other immigrants (rarely) today. At the time of the Mosley marches in the 1930’s he was only 10 years old, but he remembers that the only support the Jewish community got was from the Communist party, all the other parties turned a blind eye, and some on the right were even supporters of fascism.
Apparently Jeremy Corbyn’s parents were themselves in movements showing solidarity with the Jewish community at this time – Sam said it was ironic that the child of such rare friends to our Jewish community is now treated unfairly in this way by some of our own.
Sam, of course, talked about the horrors of the war. The hopeless fleeing of fascism, the dreadful concentration camps, the millions slaughtered so cruelly by the fascists, including innocent children. He said “ do you know they actually made these poor victims pay a fare before putting them on these cattle-wagon trains to take them to the concentration camps?”
After the war, in which all his family in Europe were lost, Sam said that the fear of the Jewish people was that the Holocaust could be repeated. No country had opened their door to the Jews fleeing fascism before the war. This is why they are vigilant for any rebirth of anti-Semitism that could eventually grow so that history is repeated. There is understandably a lot of strong emotion when anti-Semitism is suspected and it makes rational dialogue with some people, in the case of these unfair slurs on Corbyn, almost impossible.
This terrible fear of Jews, that the Holocaust is repeated, is why the birth of Israel was so important and why its protection today is vital for them. Sam adds though that it was so unfair to punish Palestinians for what German fascists had done to European Jews!
Sam said that many Jews also do not now accept the brutality too often used by the right-wing Israeli government against the Palestinian people. Many Jews desire, as most of the World, the protection of the State of Israel alongside a separate viable State of Palestine.
The only means by which this can be achieved is by the sort of dialogue that Jeremy Corbyn undertakes he said. Jeremy should rather be thanked. It is ludicrous to describe Jeremy Corbyn as anti-Semitic, rather ask how could he fail to be moved by the plight of the people of Gaza?
In trying to help an oppressed minority of Palestinians, as his parents did for the Jews, Corbyn is also trying to facilitate a peace that would reduce the anxieties and victims of Israelis under the threat of attack.Sam continued by saying that, in his acts and his words, Jeremy Corbyn has done more than most political leaders to promote tolerance and fight against all forms of racism including anti-Semitism.
Sam considers that these unjustified politically motivated right-wing attacks on our friend, Jeremy Corbyn, can only create tensions between the Jewish people, here or in Israel, and the peaceful Corbyn supporters whose vision, ironically, is for a fairer, kinder Britain.
By Dr Alan Maddison • @alanmaddison20
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