On Saturday March 9th, the Guardian devoted a full page to a yet another piece about Margaret Hodge and her assaults on Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party. It was characterised by the standard complete failure to fact check Hodge’s allegations. Over 200 Jewish women (some, but not all, Labour Party members) were so incensed by yet again allowing Margaret Hodge to be judge and jury of the alleged antisemitism in the Labour party that we sent a letter to the Guardian.
This morning (March 14th), we learnt finally that the Guardian wouldn’t print the letter as 'all our issues had already been aired before’ (unlike, of course, Hodge’s allegations which were minted and brand new!! That’s irony, by the way) So here is the letter we sent. Please complain to the Guardian and also spread the letter and our appeal for follow-up across Facebook and Twitter. I was one of the signatories
LETTER FOR PUBLICATION SUBMITTED TO GUARDIAN 10 March 2019
We, all Jewish women, are baffled, hurt and infuriated by your unquestioning coverage of Margaret Hodge’s campaign against Jeremy Corbyn (‘Just Close them down: Margaret Hodge on antisemitism in Labour’s branches', March 9th). Hodge extends her allegations that Corbyn is an ‘antisemite and racist’ under whom antisemitism ‘has been given permission to come into the mainstream and, like a cancer, is infecting and growing through the Party’.
Hodge provides no evidence of such horrific wrongdoing by Corbyn, nor by ‘mainstream’ Labour members. Her own submissions to the Labour Party certainly don’t do the job: General Secretary, Jennie Formby reported that Hodge’s 200 complaints concerned 111 individuals, of whom only 20 were actually Party members.
Hodge’s demand that the Labour Party close down entire branches for supporting Chris Williamson MP, or for rejecting the IHRA antisemitism document, also passes unexamined.
Yet Williamson presents a legitimate critique; Labour’s response to antisemitism accusations has been unnecessarily defensive, he said, not that it has been ‘too apologetic about antisemitism’ itself. Meanwhile, no mention that the IHRA document has been shredded by two QCs, plus Jewish human rights specialist, Sir Geoffrey Bindman and Jewish retired Lord Justice of Appeal, Sir Stephen Sedley.
All signatories to this letter grew up in the shadow of the Holocaust. We know we must maintain eternal vigilance against antisemitic resurgence. But we also celebrate our Jewishness, especially the disputatiousness (pace our aphorism: two Jews three opinions) central to Jewish identity. We are terrified by Margaret Hodge’s attempt to hijack our history and rewrite our identity and by unwillingness to investigate, fact check and challenge her allegations.
In the same week as the Guardian's refusal to print the letter, Jenny Manson, Chair of Jewish Voice for Labour, was sent a sickening antisemitic email, as reported by Skwawkbox. The vile message includes the caller saying 'I hope you die in a gas oven'.
The matter is under investigation by police, as is another recent attack on a Jewish Corbyn supporter. The silencing of voices which appear to have been deemed 'the wrong kind of Jew' is unfair, unacceptable, and cannot be allowed to continue masking the very real antisemitism to which they are subjected.