Rarely if ever has an election in Britain ever been conducted during such a loud public debate about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. The irony of this election falling on Holocaust Day has not been lost on the Jewish population of the UK.
The biggest ticket race is that for London mayor between Sadiq Khan (for Labour) and Zac Goldsmith (Conservative) but there are races all over the country that will have a real effect on Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of Labour.
Eyes are on London because Khan might become the first Muslim mayor of London and also because one of the leading political figures suspended from the Labour party is the former mayor of London, Ken Livingstone. Livingstone has compounded his remarks that Hitler was a Zionist “before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews” with a refusal to apologize.
In contradistinction, Naz Shah — the Labour MP from Bradford who was also labeled anti-Semitic, because of her social media posts before she was elected — submitted a formal apology to the Labour Party as well as aremarkably frank written apology to the Jewish community after attending an interfaith Seder for Passover.
Not all Jewish voters were able to vote. Due to a registration error in the heavily Jewish borough of Barnet in North London, many Jews, including the Chief Rabbi Efraim Mirvis, were turned away. Though the Jewish community has recently tended Conservative rather than Labour, the numbers gathered by the London Jewish Chronicle on the eve of this election seem to show a staggeringly low 8.5% voting for Labour. The reason: anti-Semitism.
Here is Howard Jacobson talking to BBC reporter Chris Cook for background footage (hence appearing oddly cut) about the current forms of anti-Semitism in Britain.
Dan Friedman is the director of content and communications at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. Formerly the executive editor and whisky correspondent of the Forward, he is the author of an illuminating (and excellent value) book about Tears for Fears, the 80s emo rock band.