Raymond Gubbay on anti-semitism

Raymond Gubbay on anti-semitism


norman lebrecht

November 27, 2019

The veteran classical impresario has written to the Times today expressing support for the Chief Rabbi’s ‘equitable and timely’ comments on antisemitism in the Labour Party.

Raymond has put bread on many a musician’s table. His opinion deserves respect.


Sir, Growing up in postwar northwest London, the Labour Party was seen as a natural haven for British Jewry and a bastion against the occasional outpourings of the remnants of Oswald Mosley’s supporters and fellow travellers. In more than 50 years in business, I never once came across an instance of antisemitism. I wish I could say the same today, given that Labour’s equivocal position encourages insidious forms of antisemitism. The Chief Rabbi’s comments are both equitable and timely.
Raymond Gubbay

London SW1


  • Zelda Macnamara says:

    Of course his opinion is valid, as is the opinion of every Jewish person who says that there is anti-Semitism in the Labour Party or in any other party. However the Chief Rabbi’s comments are very unhelpful, as by targeting the Labour Party he is implicitly offering his support to the Conservative Party, which has formal links with far-right groups and parties elsewhere in Europe, which are openly anti-Semitic, anti-Islamic, anti-Roma, such as the Polish Law & Justice Party, Victor Orbán in Hungary, the Sweden Democrats and others.

    • The View from America says:

      … “implicitly offering his support to the Conservative party”?

      “Formal” links?

      By overstating your case, your undermine your argument.

      • Zelda Macnamara says:

        The Conservative Party is part of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group in the European Parliament. This group includes the Sweden Democrats, Vox (Spain), Law and Justice (Poland) – all known for their far-right views. They also voted en masse in support of Orban’s extreme right-wing party in a vote in the European Parliament and received a letter of thanks. So no, I’m not over-stating the case.

        • Norbert says:

          Zelda – that makes no sense, because the entire thrust of the Conservative Party is to leave the European parliament (ASAP!) and no longer be associated either with it as an institution, or any of it’s constituent members!

          And by the way, it was the Con. party that had Jews in many offices, i.e. Disraeli, Nigel Lawson, Michael Howard (as party leader no less!) and numerous others. Jews have always played a major role in the party, and many financial backers in the post war era have been Jewish (e.g. the Kalms family etc…)

          I respect your right to differ, but please do so on the basis of informed opinion.

    • Mike Schachter says:

      s a Jew born in Hungary and a quite frequent visitor to Budapest to see family, I am rather irritated about the knee-jerk accusation of anti-Semitism aimed at Orban.On what basis? I have no ide whether he dislikes Jews, he may well, but what has he done against Jews in Hungary? In Budapest at least obviously Orthodox men have a lot less chance of being verbally and physically attacked than in really cool “progressive” places like Berlin and Brooklyn. But for these places the intelligentsia will always make excuses.

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    God help Britain if the current Labour party wins government. The consequences would be much worse than no deal Brexit.

    • Tim says:

      Worthless, unless you can elaborate on why you think this?

    • Saxon Broken says:

      The consequences of a Labour government are easily reversible by a new election. The consequences of Brexit are not since we can’t just rejoin on the same terms and pretend nothing happened.

  • Tim says:

    I would question why the Rabbi’s comments were published on the day of Andrew Neil’s interview.

    They set the agenda for the interview, meaning a manifesto that could boost public spending (including on the arts) was given zero airtime, and the opening 10 minutes were a bullying haranguing on one subject.

  • anon says:

    Here’s a transcript of part of the interview. AN makes very grave accusations, including the devastating implication in his first sentence that JC is anti-Semitic.

    AN asks if JC would like to make a public apology, “for what’s happened”, but leaves it vague about what that actually means.

    JC tries to explain that he and his party reject racism, but AN keeps interrupting and notes he is not apologizing, while also not specifying his accusations, their context, and proof–something necessary to illicit a meaningful apology in front of a national audience.

    Here’s the transcript.

    Andrew Neil: Many Jews, 80 per cent of Jews, think that you’re anti-Semitic. That’s quite a lot of British Jews. I mean, wouldn’t you like to take this opportunity tonight to apologise to the British Jewish community for what’s happened?

    Jeremy Corbyn: What I’ll say is this. I am determined that our society will be safe for people of all faiths. I don’t want anyone to be feeling insecure in our society – and our government will protect every community…

    AN: So no apology?

    JC: …against the abuse they receive, on the streets, on the trains or in any…

    AN: So no apology for how you’ve handled this?

    JC: …or any other form of life.

    AN: Try one more time. No apology?

    JC: No, hang on a minute Andrew, can I explain what we’re trying to do?

    AN: You have and you’ve been given plenty of time to do that. I asked you if you wanted to apologise and you haven’t.

    JC: Andrew, I don’t want anyone to go through what anyone has gone through…

    AN: And you’ve said that several times. I understand that, Mr Corbyn, I was asking you about an apology. Let’s move on to Brexit…

    JC: Well hang on, can I just make it clear. Racism in our society is a total poison.

    AN: You’ve said that several times. So you know we get that. I’m not arguing about that.

    JC: Be it Islamophobia, anti-Semitism or…

    AN: And you’ve said that too. Let’s move on to Brexit.

    JC: …any other form of racism. And I want to work with every community to make sure it’s eliminated. That is what my whole life has been about.

    AN: You made that clear and people will make up their own minds. Let’s move on to Brexit.

    • anon says:

      That should be elicit, of course.

    • V. Lind says:

      I have not seen this interview, but from this transcript it appears Andrew Neil is trying to get Corbyn to apologise for something other people said, especially the Chief Rabbi. I see nothing particularly wrong in Corbyn’s response — here.

      Unfortunately, though I believe he believes what he is saying, it comes on the heels of an unfortunate history (if that is not too like Prince Andrew’s use of “unbecoming”) of being slow and imprecise in tackling legitimate and specific accusations of anti-Semitism within his party. He seems to have a tin ear when it comes to anti-Semitic comments and activities. This dangerous and utterly unacceptable tendency among today’s Labour party membership has never been tackled at the root, or head-on. One cosmetic thing after another has been applied.

      But this, alas, is Corbyn. He may well be a decent man who would do no harm, but as a leader he is utterly dreadful. Indecisive, vague, changeable and, latterly, on the most critical issue of the day, offering to be “neutral.” Neutrality is for The Queen. Party leaders must take a side, and must lead according to their beliefs. Not sit on the sidelines. Ledru-Rollin: “There go the people. I must follow them, for I am their leader.”

    • Bruce says:

      “I don’t want anyone to go through what anyone has gone through…”

      Nor would anyone.

  • Calvin says:

    Sad times from many perspectives. In the US, Nazis are now welcomed and coddled members of the tRump/Republican voting coalition.

  • Hilary says:

    While the cat is thrown on the table the media ignore the real racists.
    I say this despite having misgivings about JC, but we can’t have the present horror show back in power.

  • esfir ross says:

    Anti-semite’re not the one who don’t like Jews but the ones whom Jews don’t like. Old anecdote: Why there’s no anti-semitism in England?-Because we don’t think Jews’re smarter than us.

    • M2N2K says:

      These statements by ER are viciously antisemitic by any definition. And anyone who seriously believes that there is “no antisemitism in England” is clearly delusional.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    These are some of the best comments I’ve read about this feature of the new Labour Party:

    “Left-wing and Islamist anti-Semitism cross-fertilise a great deal, especially in the narrative that Jews are never victims. The corrosive, mad mixture of left-wing identity politics and traditional anti-Semitism is brilliantly referenced in Douglas Murray’s masterly The Madness of Crowds. He recounts an Atlantic magazine cover story that asked, in all seriousness, “Are Jews White?” This was so that it could be determined whether Jews were to be presumed guilty of enjoying “white privilege” and therefore always to be rendered as the enemy.

    The anti-Semitism Corbyn has licensed in British Labour demonstrates the pathology of the contemporary left. Forever seeking, and often enough inventing, “structural” racism, it cannot see, much less respond to, real racism in front of its face.

    Every civilised human being is an enemy of anti-Semitism. This would be one place to start in trying to recover our culture.” (“The Australian”)

    • Paul Brownsey says:

      “Every civilised human being is an enemy of anti-Semitism. ”

      And of homophobia, of course.

    • V. Lind says:

      I’d like to see a more specific source for this tripe. Someone wrote it for The Australian. A link would be preferable. I find it hard to believe a publication like The Australian itself supports this view, though it might publish it in op-ed.

  • Will Duffay says:

    And yes, as Michael Rosen is pointing out on twitter today, the Conservative party has close links to antisemitic politicians on the right and far right cross Europe, notably Victor Orban. And Jacob Rees Mogg made what can clearly be interpreted as an antisemitic accusation against politicans opposing Brexit, and also re-tweeted comments from a German far-right party. And then of course there is the ugly and shameless Islamophobia present throughout the Conservative party. But none of this is front page new for some reason.

  • Stephen R Gould says:

    Corbyn could easily have apologised and then gone on to say that the Labour Party is opposed to etc. etc. His reluctance to say anything specific means that either he is anti-Semitic as detractors have claimed, or that he isn’t but he thinks that there are net positive votes by not apologising – in which case he’s an anti-Semite by proxy.

    (BTW note Gubbay’s dangling participle – it was not the Labour Party that grew up in NW London…)

    • Hilary says:

      John Bercow (who is Jewish) has known Corbyn for 22years and said he didn’t detect a trace of anti-semitism in him.
      The sheer weight of media claiming the opposite (if you repeat a lie frequently enough people will believe it) will win the day though.

      • Saxon Broken says:

        Almost nobody sensible believes that Corbyn himself is an anti-semite. The problem is that many people attached to the Labour Party (and particularly in the “hard-left” from which he derives his support) are anti-semites. The number is larger than a-few–idiots and the culture over which Corbyn resides is not helpful in addressing it.

    • Tim says:

      Sorry, but you’re wrong. If Corbyn had apologised as Andrew Neil wanted, the following day’s headlines would have been ‘Corbyn finally acknowledges anti-semitism’ and ‘Too little too late’ etc

      I admired him tremendously in that interview – it is vile to accuse him of something he’s not guilty of and he knew if he apologised in that way he’d be letting a lot of activists down.

  • Peter says:

    For balance, read this article:

  • Tom Suárez says:

    This tactic of asking Corbyn to “apologise” for something of which he is not guilty, and then pointing to his “refusal” as proof that he is guilty, should have been met with ridicule. (Do you still beat your wife?) Corbyn, whatever his faults, would be the leader with the best life-long history of anti-bigotry, in all its forms, that the UK has ever had. This whole charade, rather, has always been only about Zionism.