British Jewish Writers Condemn anti-Semitism in Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party

Anti-Zionism in the party has become indistinguishable from anti-Semitism, prominent authors Simon Schama, Simon Sebag Montefoire and Howard Jacobson claim in joint letter

Jeremy Corbyn, Labour Party leader, delivers his keynote speech on the closing day of the annual Labour Party conference in Brighton, U.K., on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017.
Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Britain's Labour Party is not doing enough to combat anti-Semitism masked as anti-Zionism, three prominent and influential British Jewish writers have claimed.

Historians Simon Shama, Simon Sebag Montefiore and novelist Howard Jacobson penned an open letter in the U.K.'s The Times criticizing Jeremy Corbyn's party for what they called its "derisory" response to anti-Zionism that they claim has become indistinguishable from anti-Semitism.

“We are alarmed that during the past few years, constructive criticism of Israeli governments has morphed into something closer to antisemitism under the cloak of so-called anti-Zionism," the joint letter read.

"We do not object to fair criticism of Israel governments, but this has grown to be indistinguishable from a demonisation of Zionism itself — the right of the Jewish people to a homeland, and the very existence of a Jewish state.”

The letter follows the opposition party leader's glaring absence from an event commemorating the Balfour Declaration centenary last week, his refusal sparking widespread criticism among Britain's Jewish community.

The problem in much of the anti-Zionism allowed emanate from the party's ranks, the authors claim, is that it "frequently borrows the libels of classical Jew-hating."

“Accusations of international Jewish conspiracy and control of the media have resurfaced to support false equations of Zionism with colonialism and imperialism, and the promotion of vicious, fictitious parallels with genocide and Nazism. How, in such instances, is anti-Zionism distinguishable from antisemitism?”

They also noted the suffering of and lack of justice for the Palestinians. “We do not forget nor deny that the Palestinian people have an equally legitimate, ancient history and culture in Palestine nor that they have suffered wrongs that must be healed. We hope that a Palestinian state will exist peacefully alongside Israel,” they wrote.

Jacobson won the Mann Booker Prize 2010 for “The Finkler Question.” Schama recently published “Belonging,” the second part of his trilogy “The Story of the Jews,” and Montefiore is the author of “Jerusalem: The Biography.”