There is an issue today that is much more dangerous for Europe than its unity, the stability of its institutions or Brexit. The issue: anti-Semitism.
Anti-Semitism has wounded European history almost fatally. The Shoah remains an eternal measure of judgment for the destiny of all Europe. And this is why people who care about Europe should be much more interested in the defeat of British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn than in the defeat of Brexit.
Corbyn is a despicable and indecent figure, a stain on the flag of Great Britain—the only country which protected its Jews inside its borders while the tide of genocidal anti-Semitism spilled all over Europe during the Second World War.
Moreover, the Labour Party had once been a respectable left-wing party—not an enemy to the Jews, nor to Israel. It was not a servant to the anti-national, collectivist, anti-imperialist ideology steeped in Soviet indoctrination that deemed itself the authorized judge of the entire world after the World War II.
Now all of this has changed: In Corbyn, you have a man who attended a memorial ceremony in honor of the satanic murderers of 11 Jewish Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic Games of 1972; a man who invited terrorists from Hamas and Hezbollah to speak by his side and called them “brothers.”
Corbyn promotes deniers of the Holocaust and finances them; he uses the word “Zionist” as a derogatory slur and describes it as an offense for Jews worldwide; and this anti-Semitism that he has so aptly demonstrated has embedded itself into a significant part of his party. Some Labour Party members say today that all Jews must be exterminated and, of course, they claim, this is directly related to the terrible cruelty and colonial selfishness of Israel. It is no wonder that the Labour Party’s own Commission on Equality and Human Rights received more than 70 sworn statements from the Jewish Labour Movement that the “party does not consider the race and religion of Judaism to be a characteristic worthy of protection. … This [the Labour Party] is a very dangerous place to be.”
A whopping 50 percent of the British Jews have declared that if Corbyn is elected, they will have to leave the country. But “leaving” is not the right action. If he is elected, they will have to run for their lives, as Jews have been obliged to do many times.
Professor Robert Wistrich, a renowned authority on anti-Semitism, invited the left many times to examine its own anti-Semitic past—from Proudhon to Karl Marx to the Soviet Union—some hated Jews (and afterwards, Israel), who they saw as imperialist and capitalist. Left-wing anti-Semitism is the most modern and the most prosperous, but it is directly connected to the old prejudices of Nazi-fascists because it sees Israel as the root of all evil in the modern world: genocide, apartheid, oppression.
However, anti-Semitic leftists are smart enough, as Corbyn is, to frame their hatred for Israel as legitimate criticism, and then to window-dress it by claiming that their best friends are their Jewish neighbors and compatriots.
Corbyn and his acolytes insist that they will defend British Jews from religious and ethnic discrimination because they are opposed to any oppression. But it’s not true. His anti-Semitism is the worst, most dangerous and most aggressive because it connects so easily with the widespread Islamic anti-Semitism that has been imported today into Europe. The hatred for the Jews will destroy Europe, its spirit, its strength. The European leaders, right and left, must speak out today—or never.
Much more is riding on this election than abolishing Brexit. Corbyn must not succeed.
Journalist Fiamma Nirenstein was a member of the Italian Parliament (2008-13), where she served as vice president of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the Chamber of Deputies. She served in the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, and established and chaired the Committee for the Inquiry Into Anti-Semitism. A founding member of the international Friends of Israel Initiative, she has written 13 books, including “Israel Is Us” (2009). Currently, she is a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.