How Anti-Semitism in Britain’s Labour celebration made me really feel Jewish once more


Two weeks in the past I went to my native synagogue for the primary time in 33 years. This was stunning, mainly as a result of I haven’t set foot in a shul in all this time aside from a few weddings and the odd bar mitzvah. In 2001, I had even gone so far as marrying a non-Jew.

Simply as astonishing as the situation was the actual fact I had gone to see a Labour politician give a discuss her experiences. However I used to be completely engaged.

It’s because progressively, over the previous few months, each my political sensibilities and my sense of cultural identification have radically modified.

You will have heard that the UK has an issue with anti-Semitism on the left. This moved sharply into the mainstream when Jeremy Corbyn was elected chief of the Labour Occasion in September 2015. Corbyn described representatives of Hamas as “mates” when inviting them to a controversial assembly in Parliament in 2009. Simply final yr, footage emerged of him saying in 2013 that some British Zionists had “no sense of English irony.”

Now, in America, you could have your very personal Ilhan Omar, a Democratic congresswoman who tweeted in 2012 that “Israel has hypnotized the world.” Final month she advised a DC viewers, about Jews who help Israel: “I need to discuss concerning the political affect on this nation that claims it’s OK to push for allegiance to a international nation.”

It’s a daunting development on each side of the Atlantic. And, within the two-party system that Britain shares with the US, there’s a reasonable probability that Jeremy Corbyn might turn out to be prime minister.

Beneath his management, the Labour Occasion has been splintering. In June, Luciana Berger, who’s Jewish and a former shadow minister for public well being, was hounded (whereas closely pregnant) out of the celebration she known as “institutionally racist.” Louise Ellman, the politician I noticed on the synagogue, has been known as a “Jewish Labour Motion bitch.”

American Jews have typically appeared happier of their skins than we Brits, with Brighton Seaside and Yiddish slang and bagels (we used to name them beigels — the shtetl pronunciation). You had Woody Allen and Jackie Mason, we had Warren Mitchell (don’t ask). You proudly stayed as Stein and Leibovitz, we modified quietly to Stone and Leigh.

However, because of Jeremy Corbyn and his cronies, British Jews have began to mobilize.

Jeremy Corbyn
Jeremy CorbynAnthony Devlin/Getty Photographs

I’ve a buddy within the media who places it thus: “Jeremy Corbyn has made lots of people who didn’t really feel very Jewish, Jewish once more.”

Member of Parliament Margaret Hodge agrees. “I bear in mind my dad tried to make me Jewish and failed,” she mentioned just lately. “The native rabbi tried to make me Jewish and failed. It took the chief of the Labour Occasion to do this.”

Being Jewish, after all, she has no sense of irony.

On the finish of final month, I puzzled on Twitter whether or not others felt the identical. “I had at all times felt Jewish, however British first,” mentioned @Gilana25. “Now it’s Jewish first. Makes me a bit unhappy that it’s come to this, however being Jewish is so enriching.”

Others have turn out to be Zionist for the primary time. Laura Marcus, a charity employee buddy advised me: “I’m fiercely pro-Israel now. Wasn’t bothered earlier than.”

And I’m amongst them. This previous yr I’ve been going loopy for the Israeli Netflix reveals “Shtisel” (a few Haredi household in Jerusalem) and “Fauda” (about undercover Israeli forces.) Having not been to Israel since 1989, I need to return to the Begin-up Nation, to pattern the nightlife, the seashores and perhaps even an Israeli soldier or two.

Newly single, I’m having fun with a web-based flirtation with a Jewish novelist from Chicago I met on Twitter. I’m happy with my Jewish surname (I haven’t at all times been).

Proper now I’m listening to harmonious Simon and Garfunkel, which jogs my memory of guitars exterior within the balmy air on a kibbutz in 1985. Till just lately, my favourite musician was the discordant Elvis Costello, who occurs to help the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) motion.

As I’m scripting this, a message from a Jewish buddy pops up on Twitter.

“Will I see you in shul on Friday?”

The reply, most emphatically, is sure.

Miranda Levy is a web-based columnist for the UK’s Day by day Telegraph.