The election campaign is underway. Brexit will decide who sits as MPs after 12 December, but how Britain leaves the EU is not the only issue in town. That age-old hatred stubbornly refuses to be pushed back on the news pages.
We’ve had Andrew Marr confronting Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell with the front cover of last week’s Jewish News, warning of a Corbyn premiership. We’ve had a Conservative candidate in Portsmouth welcoming a UKIP-er who sent swastikas online. We’ve had a Lib Dem candidate who called Israeli leaders “psychopaths” and a Labour hopeful who wished Netanyahu dead.
Meanwhile, faced with the prospect of life under a rabidly anti-Israel UK government – one that would no doubt curb bilateral relations with the Jewish state and, heaven knows, even publicly sympathise with Hezbollah and Hamas – tensions are running high among British Jews. It’s got so existential that last week one rabbi, Jonathan Romain, took the unprecedented decision to write to his congregation beseeching them not to vote Labour as a “Corbyn government would pose a danger to Jewish life as we know it”.
Elsewhere, the Jewish Labour Movement has taken the extraordinary step of refusing to campaign for its own party and Luciana Berger, the admired Jewish MP hounded out of the Labour Party earlier this year, is being chastised by some for standing as a Liberal Democrat against a Conservative ally of the community. Many would prefer Berger to fight Labour rather than a loyal friend. In a zero-sum-game election, every vote snatched from the Conservatives unquestionably makes Corbyn’s task easier.
The Labour leader’s lustre seems reassuringly dulled compared to the 2017 election and his party’s Brexit approach remains bafflingly unclear. But much will change in the weeks before polling day. The stakes and the consequences could hardly be higher.