Labour anti-semitism is part of sinister global trend – leader comment

No-one is entirely defined by their religion, ethnicity, gender or whatever group to which they may belong

But, despite this, all too many people on both the left and right of the political spectrum appear willing to embrace and spread this cancerous way of thinking.

It has many names – racism, prejudice, bigotry and anti-semitism among them – and, alas, friends in high places, genuine tyrants like Vladimir Putin and wannabe ones like Donald Trump in the US and Viktor Orban in Hungary.

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Asked about evidence that Russia had interfered in the US elections, Putin replied that those responsible were “maybe…not even Russians, but Ukrainians, Tatars or Jews, but with Russian citizenship”. So, according to him, a Russian Jew was not really Russian at all.

Trump once claimed US-born federal judge Gonzalo Curiel was not fit to preside over a lawsuit brought by disgruntled students of the defunct “Trump University” because he was a “Mexican”. Orban has described migration as a “poison” and claimed “every single migrant” could be a terrorist.

In the UK, right-wingers have suggested pro-Remain politicians are “enemies of the people” – echoing one slogan of murderous dictators through the ages – and organisations like the “English Defence League” have taken an Orban-style approach to fanning the flames of Islamophobia.

On the left, anti-semitism in the Labour party has prompted the resignations of several MPs, including that of Ian Austin MP, whose father was a refugee from the Holocaust. He said yesterday that he had joined the party to fight racism 35 years ago and “could never have believed I would be leaving the Labour party because of racism too”. He added he was “ashamed” of the party.

Jeremy Corbyn still has questions to answer about his own track record on this. One video showed the then Labour MP talking about British Zionists who even though they had “lived in this country for a very long time, probably all their lives …don’t understand English irony”. He later insisted Zionists was not code for Jews, a claim some struggle to believe.

And then at the grassroots level there have been cases like that of Mary Bain Lockhart, a Labour councillor in Fife, who went so far as to suggest that British journalists working for the Jewish Chronicle, Jewish News and Jewish Telegraph were acting as agents of the Israeli state, saying “if” articles about Corbyn were “a Mossad assisted campaign to prevent the election of a Labour government pledged to recognise Palestine as a state, it is unacceptable interference in the democracy of Britain”. The staunch Corbyn-supporter was suspended, but then re-admitted to the party last month.

Many Corbyn supporters are rightly appalled by Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, but have shamefully and idiotically started to conflate the Israeli government with people who are Jewish.

No-one is entirely defined by their religion, ethnicity, gender or whatever group to which they may belong. We are all individual human beings. And we all know this with absolute certainty because we all are one.

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But we seem to be peculiarly prone to making sweeping judgments about groups of others. In its mildest form, this is rude, unpleasant and insulting. In its worst form, it is the philosophy of the Nazis.