In the midst of the 2019 general election campaign, the UK’s chief rabbi declared the then Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, had allowed a “poison sanctioned from the top” to take root in the party. Making a rare intervention in politics, Ephraim Mirvis, who represents 62 of the UK’s Orthodox synagogues, castigated Corbyn’s “utterly inadequate” response to the party’s antisemitism crisis and asked people to “vote with their conscience” – in other words: not Labour. How had it come to this? Let’s take a tour of the Corbyn years and how antisemitism played out in British politics: a series of allegations and evasions, escalations and denials. Shabi argues that this crisis weakened an understanding of antisemitism, fractured solidary in fighting all forms of racism and makes it harder to talk about the Palestinian cause.
Rachel Shabi is an award-winning journalist. She has reported extensively on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wider Middle East. She writes about British politics for international publications including the Guardian, The New York Times, The Independent and the New York Review. Shabi is a regular broadcast media commentator. Her book Not the Enemy: Israel’s Jews from Arab Lands (2009) received a National Jewish Book Award.