The Chief Rabbi became front page news for almost 48 hrs, due not only to his much needed piece in the Times but also because of the car crash interview of Corbyn with Andrew Neil later that night.
What was remarkable, is that during that interview he would not apologise, he would just continually repeat that a Labour government would protect all faiths and that he is no way an anti-Semite or that he supports any anti-Semitism by anyone. Thankfully Andrew Neil exposed this for the sham it always has been.
Of course his supporters jumped to his defence on social media. There was disgraceful vilification of the Chief Rabbi and the obvious effusive praise of Corbyn – ‘who doesn’t have a racist bone in his body’.
One of the most interesting pieces I read in his defence, linked from the Jewish Voice for Labour site, was a document detailing ’50 pieces of evidence that Jeremy Corbyn hasn’t got an anti-Semitic bone in his body’. This was, they claimed, a list of fifty occasions on which Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn stood with Jewish people in the UK and other countries.
Read through the 50 and you will discover that almost half are to do with the Holocaust and most of the rest are him commenting on anti-Semitism from the far right. So he clearly loves and supports Jews!
However, what you will notice is that there is no mention of anything he has done or said positively about the Jewish State – Israel (except one about him praising the late Yitzchak Rabin).
The problem he and the far left have with the Jewish people, can be explained by analysing Parshat Toldot and the next two parshiot.
Let me explain.
We meet Yaacov Avinu in this week’s sedra and he is introduced to us as ‘V Yaacov ish tam, yosheiv ohalim’ ‘Yaacov was a wholesome man, dwelling in tents’ Bereishit 25:27.
Rashi explains that this refers to Yaacov being moral and spending his time in the yeshivot of Shem and Ever. In essence he was a good Jewish boy.
Yet by the end of the parsha, through his mother’s planning, he has received not just the spiritual blessing of the land and the blessing of Avraham (28:3) (which was always going to be his), he has also received the blessing of physical success as well. (27:27)
His enforced journey from his parents’ house leads to his encounter with Hashem at Bet El and then his years of service with Lavan where he marries and has his 13 children and then meets Eisav again. During this time, he transforms from the quiet and dedicated Torah scholar (Yaacov) into a man of the world, businessman and leader of our nation – still dedicated to Hashem and Torah (Yisrael).
We too have gone through a transformation – for millennia we were only Yaacov, dedicated to our Torah while the world persecuted us from generation to generation. We had no country, no protection, no home. We stumbled from expulsions to ghettos to pogroms till eventually the nadir of the Holocaust.
Corbyn and his followers have time for these Jews and will speak out against the anti-Semitism of the past.
However, there has been a transformation – we have now once again become a nation in our own land – we once again have and are also Yisrael.
As Rabbi Sacks said a few months ago in the house of Lords ‘My Lords, it pains me to speak about antisemitism, the world’s oldest hatred. But I cannot keep silent. One of the enduring facts of history is that most antisemites do not think of themselves as antisemites. We don’t hate Jews, they said in the Middle Ages, just their religion. We don’t hate Jews, they said in the nineteenth century, just their race. We don’t hate Jews, they say now, just their nation state.’
Corbyn and Co love the weak Jew, the persecuted Jew, the harassed Jew, the wandering Jew. However, the strong Jew, the proud Jew, the successful Jew, the Jewish soldier, the Jewish state – that they cannot stomach.
They may lament the anti-Semitism of the past – they would never sanction ‘Death to the Jews’, but they increase the anti-Semitism of the present by stating that ‘Israel has no right to exist – it is a racist endeavour’. Death to the Jews has simply transformed into Death to Israel.
Stephen Daisley, a New Zealand author, wrote about this powerfully in the Spectator in regard to the people who are allying themselves with the Labour party.
‘Know that you will be remembered. You will be remembered and counted among the plentiful persecutors of the Jewish people and the even more plentiful bystanders. Your children will teach their children not to be like you. Know that while you may win in the moment you will lose in eternity. Know this: Am Yisrael Chai. The Jewish people live and will go on living forever.’
In two weeks’ time it will be the election.
In two weeks’ time it will be Parshat Vayishlach.
In two weeks’ time we will reach the climax of Yaacov’s journey as he fights with the angel and overcomes to be blessed by Hashem.
“Hashem said to him, “Your name is Yaacov. Your name shall no longer be called Yaacov, but Yisrael shall be your name.” And He named him Yisrael. And Hashem said to him, “I am the Almighty God; be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a multitude of nations shall come into existence from you, and kings shall come forth from your loins. And the land that I gave to Abraham and to Isaac, I will give to you and to your seed after you will I give the land.” (Bereishit 35:10-12)
Hashem’s promise has lasted for over 3000 years, his children are back in the land and we must realise that through a combination of Yaacov and Yisrael we will overcome any and every challenge that present day Lavans and Eisavs can throw at us. Because as Stephen Daisley reminded us: