Repeated vandalism of a tree planted as a Holocaust memorial symbolizes the precarious situation of Jews in England as the Labour Party, once a base for Jewish political activism, is taken over by anti-Semites.
By: Rabbi Abraham Cooper
A tree planted as a Holocaust memorial has been badly vandalized twice during a spate of anti-Semitic incidents in Salisbury, England.
Local Member of Parliament (MP) John Glen told the Salisbury Journal that the vandalism was related to “other acts of anti-Semitism,” noting that “many people in Salisbury will be saddened to find out that the Holocaust memorial tree in Churchill Gardens has twice been vandalized in recent weeks….
“The latest acts of vandalism disrespect the memory of those who lost their lives in the Holocaust. They are also a further sign of a worrying trend in our society where extremism is increasingly drifting into the mainstream. We must redouble our efforts to ensure that antisemitism plays no part in our society and politics.”
It’s not just the uprooting of a memorial tree to dead Jews that worries the United Kingdom’s Jews, but the uprooting of their legitimacy and safety in England.
The hatred, which legitimizes clear and present dangers to British Jewry, has been emanating from what was the historic political home of British Jewry: the Labour Party. Now led by Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party denounced anti-Semitism with a definition that scrubbed the red line where legitimate criticism of Israel ends and anti-Semitism begins.
So, far from combating anti-Semitism, this Labour Party will give its blessing to party members who oppose Israel’s right to exist and who brand Jews as “Nazis.”
According to Dan Hodges in London’s Daily Mail, “Accusing Jews of being traitors to the UK will no longer be considered anti-Semitic, just a bit ‘wrong.’”
Here’s a sampler of anti-Semitic gems emanating from Labourites:
A recent Facebook post by a Labour councilor, Damien Enticott, suggested that “Talmud Jews” kill Christian children to drink their blood.
Corbyn supporters rant about ‘ugly Israeli species’
At a 2015 campaign rally, Corbyn led a chorus of the “Red Flag” with supporters who said that Israel is responsible for ISIS. His supporters openly ranted about the “ugly Israeli species.”
Corbyn mocked critics by appointing two virulently anti-Israel MPs, Kate Osamor and Sarah Champion, to lead the Party’s unconvincing effort to repair relations with the Jewish community.
At the Bear Pit, a popular outdoor venue in Bristol, a giant campaign banner showed Prime Minister Theresa May with Star of David-shaped earrings, a banner that some observers described as anti-Semitic. The banner listed positive statements about Corbyn and negative ones about May.
In March 2017, before former London Mayor Ken Livingstone was expelled by the Labour Party, he told reporters that there had been “real collaboration” between the Nazis and Jews.
“[Hitler] didn’t just sign the deal,” Livingstone said. “The SS set up training camps so that German Jews who were going to go there (Palestine) could be trained to cope with a very different sort of country when they got there.” He refused to retract his statement that Hitler was “a staunch Zionist.”
In August 2017, at the popular Edinburgh Festival Fringe, UK political activist Jackie Walker appeared in her one-woman show, “Lynching,” portraying herself as a martyr of a Zionist-orchestrated conspiracy. When faced by a torrent of Jewish protests, she “apologized” but did not retract her Farrakhan-inspired slander — that “many Jews were the chief financiers of the slave trade.”
Walker, the former vice chair of Corbyn’s grassroots political army, Momentum, also said, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Holocaust Remembrance Day was open to all people who’ve experienced Holocaust?”
In January 2018, Corbyn’s International Holocaust Memorial Day statement left out one word: Jew.
In March, Corbyn criticized the removal of British graffiti artist Kalen Ockerman’s “Freedom for Humanity” mural that depicted Jewish-looking businessmen and bankers counting money and playing monopoly on the backs of the poor. Corbyn expressed sympathy for the artist: “Why? You are in good company. Rockerfeller [sic] destroyed Diego Viera’s mural because it includes a picture of Lenin.”
In April, after 2,000 people marched on Parliament demanding action against anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, two Jewish leaders, Jonathan Arkush and Jonathan Goldstein, were invited to a sit-down with Corbyn. Arkush faulted him for “repeatedly [being] found alongside people with blatantly anti-Semitic views.”
On Passover, Corbyn attended a non-traditional Jewish Seder with a group that wants to do away with Israel. Later that week, Corbyn’s message was read outside 10 Downing Street condemning Israel’s “illegal and inhumane” actions against Palestinians protesting on the Gaza border. (Those protests/riots, organized by Hamas, featured firebombs, Molotov cocktails and burning tires.) Corbyn later refused to condemn Hamas for hundreds of rockets fired into Israel.
And now, one of Corbyn’s closest allies on Labour’s ruling body, at a meeting attended by Corbyn, blames-not anti-Semites but Jewish “Trump fanatics” for bad PR. Peter Willsman also demanded “proof” from 68 rabbis, who warned Jew-hatred had become “severe and widespread” within the Labour Party.
Finally, Boris Johnson, a Conservative leader, has challenged Corbyn to put an end to his party’s mainstreaming of anti-Semitism. If he won’t, there’s little chance that the damaged Holocaust Memorial Tree — or British Jewry — will ever fully blossom again if Corbyn becomes the UK’s next prime minister.
In the meantime, be prepared for even worse to come from the Labour Party headed by the incorrigible Corbyn, who will be remembered by many as the spiritual heir of the UK’s goose-stepping Sir Oswald Mosley from the 1930s.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper is associate dean and director of Global Social Action programs at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an international Jewish human rights organization named for the famed Nazi hunter and Holocaust survivor and headquartered in Los Angeles.
This article was originally published in The Hill