chapter  2
26 Pages

The rise of Jeremy Corbyn and how tolerance of antisemitism came to function as a marker of belonging

ByDavid Hirsh

In 1997 the Labour Party won the General Election with a huge 179-seat majority after having been out of power since the victory of Margaret Thatcher in 1979. On 14 August 2015, as Jeremy Corbyn emerged as a front runner in the leadership election, the Jewish Chronicle (JC) took the unprecedented step of giving over its front page to seven questions regarding Corbyn's record on the issue of antisemitism. It is not accidental that the issue of antisemitism has become pivotal to this process of defining who is inside and who is not. In the post-war period, in democratic discourse at least, everybody recognised antisemitism as being bad, and they recognised opposition to antisemitism as an entry requirement into progressive politics. Democracy itself and freedom of expression, law, truth and human rights now become suspect; they are said to hide the reality of raw power behind a facade of legitimating discourse.