Neviim Tovim, blogs by Gillian Gould Lazarus

Archive for November 2019

The Corbynists were very angry with the former Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, when he spoke out against Labour antisemitism. They were angry with the 68 rabbis who signed a letter in the Guardian back in July 2018, in favour of Labour accepting the full IHRA definition of antisemitism. Pete Willsman of the Labour NEC called them Trump fanatics. They are angry with John Le Carré, Joanna Lumley and twenty or so other public figures who wrote to the Guardian after the General Election was called, to say they would not vote Labour because of the party’s problem with antisemitism. As for Rachel Riley, Tracy Ann Oberman, Ian Austin, Luciana Berger, Margaret Hodge, John Mann, Louise Ellman, the Corbynists’ comments about these persons are beyond acrimonious.

They are not nice about me either, or about any activist, Jewish or otherwise, who expresses concern about Labour Antisemitism.

The edition of the Times for tomorrow, 26 November, carries the headline ‘Corbyn not fit for high office says Ephraim Mirvis’ and Chief Rabbi Mirvis’s article was the top news item on all television news channels late this evening.

A spokesperson for Labour has repudiated the Chief Rabbi’s claims, just as they did regarding the participants in a  Panorama programme about Labour antisemitism, directed by John Ware.

On the Labour forums which I look at, there is not a word of sympathy for the Chief Rabbi; nor is there even toleration. He is called a ‘Tory Jew motherfuck’ and other names, equally disapproving.

Below are some reactions from Labour forums this evening, but there will be many more tomorrow. The strange thing is the way the people featured in these screen shots insist that they have never seen an iota of antisemitism in the Labour Party.

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I should add that some of these pages are from forums in the days following Rabbi Mirvis’s article in The Times and he continues to be a topic of interest among Corbynists.

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mirvis victory

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For some time, my parents had postal votes. Outside the Jewish residential home where they lived their last years, there was a plaque dedicated to a notable local MP who had officially opened the building: Margaret Thatcher.

As Labour voters, they were never fans of Mrs Thatcher but neither did they display any noticeable animus when they referred to her.

In the 1970s, my mother used to buy clothes in a store called Owen and Owen in North Finchley. One day in the changing cubicle, she heard a familiar voice from the other side of the curtain – the unmistakable, saccharine tones of the Secretary of State for Education and Science.  My parents both related this with surprising glee as an anecdote, but when the General Election came around in 1979, James Callaghan got their vote. It could not be otherwise: Labour was always their choice. When I was young, I asked them if they ever thought of voting Communist, like a few other members of the family, but they said no, they were not Communists.

My sister and I and our husbands and our children, when the time came, voted Labour.

By 2017, my father had died. In the run up to the General Election of 8 June, I asked my mother if she needed help with her postal vote. She did. She produced the form. Following her stroke in 2012, she was not easily able to wield pencil or pen, which was a particular loss to her as she had loved drawing. Now she was ninety-seven; the strength in her arms and legs had gone, but she knew about the forthcoming election and the function of the postal vote.

I sat beside her wheelchair with the form on my lap and the pen in my hand.

‘How do you want to vote?’ I asked.

She hesitated.

‘I think I’ll do what I always do,’ she said. ‘Shall I?’

‘Labour?’ I said.

‘Yes, Labour,’ replied Mum and I put a cross in the box beside the name of the Labour candidate.

For myself, I did not intend to vote Labour in that General Election because Jeremy Corbyn was now the Leader of the Opposition. Ill reports had reached me, long before his rise to prominence, of his friendships with and support for a range of antagonists who had Israel and sometimes Jews in general in their sights.

I took the sealed envelope away and the next day noticed it was still  on the dashboard of my car. I had forgotten to post it which I supposed was parapraxis, and I made sure to catch the next post so that it would arrive in ample time.

That was my mother’s last vote. As she said herself, she did what she had always done and voted Labour. I did what I had never done in a General Election and voted other than Labour.

Yesterday, I saw a little film by the always entertaining Maureen Lipman, in which she revived her Beattie character for the anti-extremism campaign, Mainstream.

As ever, Beattie is on the phone and we only hear her side of the conversation.

‘My mother always said, “This is a kind and a decent country,”’ says Beattie. “They will always do the decent thing.”

‘Well if that’s the case, why would anybody vote for this Labour Party?

‘Of course, we were all Labour, everybody voted Labour. I voted Labour all my life.’

Thank you, Maureen Lipman and Mainstream, because the video seemed to me to get to the heart of the matter.

Mum died two years ago this day, at the age of ninety-eight. I am glad that she voted Labour, the last time she voted. I would not have wanted her to know what I know, what Maureen Lipman knows and what Beattie knows.

maureen

 

 

 

 

For the first time, an unfriendly comment appeared on my blog. It was this:

You’re just a typical white racist tory who has no problems with Windrush deportations or tory Islamaphobia. You get no support from the BAME community for a reason, you racist tory filth.

What made it surprising is that the comment followed my recent post connected with an aspect of the Yom Kippur liturgy; in other words, a politically neutral piece. Possibly, the author of the comment had looked at my Twitter account and noticed my aversion to Mr Corbyn. He or she might then have inferred that I was a Conservative. Someone suggested that the comment might have come from a bot.

The phrase ‘Why don’t you f off and join the Tories’ is associated with devotees of Mr Corbyn, generally addressed to Labour moderates and Lib Dems, being intended as an insult. There would be no point in saying it to somebody who was in point of fact a supporter of the Conservative Party.

Now that a General Election has been called, various deciding factors come into play: morality, strategy, self-interest, utility.

Many people I know cannot bear to vote Tory. They usually voice an intention to vote LibDem. This seems to me a good decision. I know at least one person who refuses ever to vote LibDem due to the Cameron/Clegg Coalition. He has been voting Green in council elections and I think this too is a good choice. Not a Green Party supporter, I am satisfied for them to obtain a vote which would otherwise have gone to Corbyn’s Labour.

This morning, Ian Austin gave an interview in which he said that Corbyn was unfit to be Prime Minister. Austin stated that he was no Tory but that Boris Johnson was not as unfit as Corbyn . The Corbynist forums, which last night were laying into Tom Watson, are now going after Ian Austin, creating memes about his associations with Israel. How could it be otherwise?

I live in a constituency which usually elected Conservative MPs, but unexpectedly put in a Labour man in the year that Tony Blair became Prime Minister. The constituency then reverted to Conservative but elected a Labour MP in 2017. I do not think the LibDems are in with a chance in my constituency,  so I intend to do the unspeakable thing and vote Tory in the General Election four weeks from now.

I would love to vote for the more palatable LibDems which I could admit to afterwards, and no one would hold it against me. However, I have bitten the bullet and voted Conservative before. The first time was when Boris Johnson stood against Ken Livingstone in the London Mayoral Election. I had voted for Ken previously but by 2008, his antisemitism had been upgraded from possible to likely.

When Jeremy Corbyn became Labour leader, I gave up my Labour Party membership but rejoined to vote for Owen Smith in his leadership challenge. Then I left again, but still get the emails from Team Labour, inviting me to ‘chip in’ with a donation (I seem to hear John McDonnell’s voice uttering the words ‘Chip in’ in his sincere, straight from the shoulder, folksy manner).

In the Mayoral Election of 2016, despite having some esteem for Sadiq Khan, I voted for the LibDem Caroline Pidgeon. I thought any Labour victory would be counted as another feather in Corbyn’s excessively plumed cap and indeed, it was claimed by supporters of Mr Corbyn that it was Londoners’ esteem for their leader which had secured the Mayoralty for Sadiq Khan.

In local elections in the time of Theresa May, I voted Conservative. I had started delving into online Labour forums and seen that antisemitism flourished to a remarkable degree, often but not always cloaked as criticism of Israel. Some pro-Corbyn forums were and are hospitable to frankly anti-Jewish statements and holocaust denial. Beneath the countless photos of distressed children, who, according to the forumniks have been harmed by Israelis, I have often seen remarks about the sub-humanity of  Jews, as well as Israelis or Zionists, who are always the ultimate bêtes noires according to all the Labour forums.

Perhaps being exposed to the online antisemitism of Labour supporters has blinded me to the value of people who remain members of the Party. There is a statistic, 0.01%, beloved of Corbyn supporters, and this, they say, is the sum total of antisemitic members. It does not seem to me that this is a reliable measure of the problem and still less an answer to it. Every day, I read articles about the antisemitic history of Labour’s new parliamentary candidates. Some of them have been withdrawn, others not. All have apparently been on a journey. On the forums, I can only assume that the decent 99.99% have been ejected, as I was, when I queried some of the egregious bigotry I saw there.

I am called many names due to my activism on Twitter against Labour antisemitism: apartheid lover, apologist for child murder, old hag, Tory and others which mercifully slip my memory. ‘Old’ is not really disputable and, although I feel, like Ian Austin, that I am no Tory, I shall be voting Conservative because I want the Conservatives to win this election. I don’t want a hung parliament which puts Corbyn into number 10 as the head of a coalition. I don’t want a Labour victory which arms Corbyn for his ‘peace-loving’ vendetta against the West, the media and – to use Corbynspeak – the Zionists.

To return to the comment which appeared on my blog, apostrophizing me as ‘racist Tory filth,’ I am no racist and I am not a Tory, but I will vote against Corbyn, so in that sense, ‘Tory filth’ is probably as near as damn it.



  • L.Sordo: They always strike me as being immature, semi-literate and gullible.I assume they're late teens or under 30 left school at 16 as did I. I read every
  • Gillian Gould Lazarus: Thanks, L Sordo. One word I question here - 'kids'. Many of these participants are mature, one might say senior individuals. Observing over a period o
  • L. Sordo: This is an eye-opener. These kids have obviously got a lot of humanity and compassion but relentless anti-Israel propaganda outweighs their limited k