The contrast could not be starker in the Chanukah messages from Britain’s political leaders.
Countering antisemitism was central in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s video message. He said: “Today as Britain’s Jews seek to drive back the darkness of resurgent antisemitism, you have every decent person in this country fighting by your side. Britain would not be Britain without its Jewish community.”
Referencing recent fears within the Jewish community over antisemitism, he added: “And we will stand with you and celebrate with you at Chanukah, and all year round.”
However, the antisemitic Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, failed to even mention Labour’s antisemitism scandal. In a video message lasting over two minutes, Mr Corbyn completely ignored the antisemitism crisis in the Labour Party. He said: “It seems to be the right time to be thinking about the message of hope” but clearly not the right time to be thinking about antisemitism in his Party and its effect on the British Jewish community.
Instead, he attempted to explain to British Jews what Chanukah is and then descended into a political message. He said of lighting the Chanukah candles: “They have been lit in the worst of times” and cited some of the atrocities that befell the Jewish people. In echoes of his Rosh Hashanah message, Mr Corbyn seemed to equate the theme of the festival with the environment. On three occasions he talked about the climate crisis or emergency. He then attacked the Conservative Party and said: “Our communities now face the threat of years of policies that won’t heal divisions or end equality.”
Ed Davey, acting co-Leader of the Liberal Democrats, also focused on antisemitism in his video message, saying: “Regrettably, we still need to fight that antisemitism and religious persecution here in the UK and across the globe. British Jews are an integral part of our national identity.”
Nicola Sturgeon, Leader of the Scottish National Party, posted a short message on Twitter, noting: “Chanukah is a special time of year for Jewish communities to come together and celebrate their faith. I wish all of you celebrating in Scotland and across the world a peaceful and happy Chanukah — Chanukah sameach!”
The Green Party or its leaders have not sent a Chanukah message, and nor has the Brexit Party.