Seven in 10 British Jews are concerned about the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn becoming Labour leader, according to a new poll. It also found that nearly 90 per cent of British Jews think “anti-Zionist” is used as a code word for “anti-Jewish” by politicians.
The frontrunner in Labour’s leadership race, Corbyn has stirred unease with his links to pro-Palestinian groups. As Labour prepared to send out ballots, it emerged that Corybn had given money to Deir Yassin Remembered, an organisation set up by known holocaust denier Paul Eisen. Corbyn acknowledged the link but claimed not to have known that Eisen was a holocaust denier.
He has also come under fire for comments in which he described Hamas and Hezbollah as “friends,” reacting angrily to reporters when questioned on his choice of words.
As regards his links to Eisen, 80 per cent said they were concerned regarding those links.
Asked how they feel about Mr Corbyn becoming leader, 67 per cent say they are “concerned”, with only 13 per cent responding “unconcerned”.
The poll’s 1,011 respondents were also asked: “When you see or hear a politician describe themselves as anti-Zionist, how often do you think they really means anti-Jewish?” 44 per cent replied “always”, against just four percent who replied “never.” A further 27 per cent thought that they “often” meant anti-Jewish, and 16 per cent thought that it was “sometimes” used to mean anti-Jewish, meaning that in total 90 per cent of the Jewish population thinks that anti-Zionism is used as a cover for anti-Semitism at least some of the time.
These are all words that have been flung around liberally over the past few weeks, as Corbyn’s imminent victory became more apparent. Over the weekend, Yasmin Alibhai Brown took to the Independent to warn readers to ignore the concerns raised over Corbyn by “extreme Zionists” and “the forces of darkness”. She added: “the overreactions of some extreme Zionists these days is tantamount to an attempt to censor all criticism of Israel’s political and military tactics”.
The Campaign for Anti-Semitism quickly hit back, responding “Mainstream Jewry’s concerns are neither “extreme” nor anything to do with Israel. […] we are concerned both by Corbyn’s associations and his many supporters’ apparent indifference to them.”
The debate has hit home with Britain’s Jews. By comparison to polls of eligible voters, which placed Corbyn on a high of 53 percent in early August, and still out in front on 37 percent most recently, just five percent of those surveyed in the Jewish Chronicle’s poll backed Corbyn as Labour leader.
17 percent said they would back Andy Burnham as Labour leader, with Yvette Cooper on 12 percent, Liz Kendall on nine percent; the vast majority, 58 percent, said they didn’t know who would make the best leader.
Survation also asked how they voted in May’s general election: nearly 63 per cent said they had backed the Tories, against just under 14 percent who voted Labour.