The Racism, Bigotry and Intolerance of Former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

The former Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, has decided to weigh in and attack Jeremy Corbyn for supposed anti-Semitism for his comments about Zionist protesters in 2013. Remember, this was at an event in parliament where the Palestinian ambassador, Manuel Hassassian was speaking. The Zionists turned up at the meeting, and did what Zionist protesters always do at pro-Palestinian events: they tried to disrupt it. Corbyn commented that although the Zionists had lived here all their lives, they had not mastered English irony. This has been seized by Sacks and the other Zionist fanatics as an anti-Semitic statement. It’s supposed to show that Corbyn doesn’t consider Jews proper English people.

In fact, as Corbyn has explained, he was specifically and only speaking Zionists, not Jews. And the remark contrasted how they didn’t understand irony, while Mr Hassassian, for whom English is not his first language, did.

But this wasn’t good enough for Sacks, who seems to have whipped himself up into what Molesworth would call ‘a fearful bate’, and declared Corbyn’s comments to be the worst racist speech since Enoch Powell’s notorious ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech.

This rant – and it can only be described as a rant, as it has neither logic nor facts behind it – has not impressed the very many people, who support Corbyn on the Net. They have attacked Sacks’ comments, exposing them for the empty rhetoric they are, and laid bare Sacks’ is own vicious bigotry and intolerance.

Mike over at Vox Political has written a piece demolishing Sacks’ comments almost line. He has also included tweets, which show that Corbyn is the very opposite of an anti-Semite and supporter of Powell.

For example, Tory Fibs posted that in 1977 when he was a councilor for Haringey, Corbyn had organized a demo in support of the Jewish community and others against the National Front.

Howard Cover posted pictures showing Corbyn’s arrest for demonstrating against apartheid South Africa, while Maggie Thatcher met its president, P.W. Botha.

Aaron Bastani reminded the world that Sacks has said that he has no objection to Netanyahu’s Nation State law, consolidating Israeli apartheid. Sacks said there wasn’t anything ‘apartheid’ about it, and it was just covering some lacunae.

Michael Walker also pointed out how Sacks had led a Far Right Israeli march through East Jerusalem, in which the marchers shouted the slogans ‘Death to the Arabs’.

And Aaron Bastani and Owen Jones pointed out that Sacks had declared that one of the best books last year, 2017, was by Douglas Murray. The book favourably cites Enoch Powell.


Tony Greenstein and David Rosenberg also tore into Sacks, adding further information on the incident, and showing how really nasty and bigoted Sacks is.

For a start, Corbyn’s speech, as you might expect, was very definitely not anti-Semitic. Rosenberg in his article shows that before he responded to the Zionists, Corbyn had been praising the important contribution Jewish socialists and trade unionists had made in the formation and early history of the Labour party.

He also notes that those particular disrupters include people, who mix freely with the real xenophobes and Fascists of the English Defence League. He then goes on to give other examples of Sacks’ vicious bigotry and intolerance.

Sacks refused to attend the funeral of the much-loved and respected Reform rabbi, Hugo Gryn. Gryn was a genuine Holocaust survivor. His family had been sent to Auschwitz. His brother had been gassed a few moments after his arrival, and his father died shortly after the camp’s liberation. But Sacks’ refused to attend Gryn’s funeral because he was part of a ‘false grouping’ of those ‘who want to destroy the faith’.

One of his first actions as Chief Rabbi was to organize a walk in Hyde Park for Jewish Unity. But this unity did not include the Jewish Gay and Lesbian Helpline, who he deliberately excluded. Later on, he made a speech about how gays had the right to marry.

He has also helped Trump’s vice-president, Mike Pence, write a speech for Pence’s appearance in the Knesset at the time Trump decided to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Rosenberg points out that Pence is an Evangelical Christian who holds hardline positions on gender equality, gay rights and abortion, demanding that public funds for HIV/Aids be redirected to “conversion therapy” for LGBT people.

Rosenberg also describes another revealing incident, when Sacks had just finished giving his ‘Thought for the Day’ on Radio 4. It was during the bombardment of Gaza. Evan Davis asked him if he had any thoughts about that. Sacks sighed, and said it was really about Iran. When Davis reminded him that they were on air, Sacks immediately changed it and gave a prayer for continuing peace in Gaza and the region.

Rosenberg also describes how Sacks, with his successor Jonathan Mirvis, also led a group of Diaspora Jews through East Jerusalem, the Muslim quarter. This is an annual occasion when Far Right marchers vandalise Muslim property and seek to intimidate the residents, shouting ‘Death to Arabs’ and chanting about how the al-Aqsa Mosque – the Dome of the Rock – will be burned down and Herod’s Temple rebuilt.

Haaretz, the liberal, anti-racist Israeli paper pleaded with Sacks not to come. They wrote to Sacks arguing that his presence as Chief Rabbi would normalize the situation, and pointed out that Diaspora Jews had worked hard to show that supporting Israel does not necessarily entail supporting the occupation. His presence at the March would undermine this message. Sacks ignored them.

Rosenberg also discusses how Sacks appeared as number 30 in the Torygraph’s list of the top 100 right-wingers in 2008, well above Tweezer, John Redwood Lynton Crosby, Norman Tebbit, ‘and that rising star for all Islamophobes,’ Douglas Murray. And he also mentions how Sacks declared Murray’s book The Strange Death of Europe. Sacks said of it that it was

“unsettling” and “disturbing”. Sacks continued: “Murray weaves a tale of uncontrolled immigration, failed multiculturalism, systemic self-doubt, cultural suicide and disingenuous political leadership. Accurate, insightful and devastating.”

Rosenberg also expands on the book’s approving comments about Enoch Powell. It includes an apologia for and a reinterpretation of his ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech.

Rosenberg concludes his article

But then again it wasn’t the likes of Rabbi Sacks, and the cushioned middle classes who experienced on the streets the fallout from Powell’s hate speech. It was predominantly the Asian and Caribbean communities facing vicious racial violence, including racial murders, and the anti-racist movements, abused and attacked by the far right forces Powell encouraged. Those communities, the anti-racist movements, the refugee communities today, in the face of brutal attacks, have continued to resist. And through those years of resistance they have known they can rely on solidarity from allies beyond their own communities. One absolutely constant and ever-present ally, at their side then and now, is Jeremy Corbyn.


Tony Greenstein’s piece defending Corbyn against Sacks also makes the point that the former Chief Rabbi’s views trivialize real anti-Semitism and Jewish suffering. He writes

Jonathan Sack’s comparison of Corbyn with Enoch Powell is not only extraordinarily offensive but it is in itself anti-Semitic. What he and the rest of the empty chorus of Zionist propagandists are doing is to belittle and minimise the experience of Jews who in the past faced real anti-Semitism. To compare opposition to Zionism and Israeli Apartheid with anti-Semitism simply minimises and trivialises the bloody pogroms of Czarist Russia to say nothing of the tribulations of German and European Jewry under Nazi occupation. It is somewhat ironic that the Zionist movement which never fought anti-Semitism and in the case of Nazi Germany actively collaborated with it now dons the mantle of the opponents of anti-Semitism.

He also includes three newspaper articles, two protesting against his decision to join the March of the Flags and describing the Fascistic violence and vandalism against the Palestinians that occurs during it. One of these was written by a Muslim Palestinian. A third article, written by a Zionist and opponent of the BDS campaign, makes the point that Palestinians aren’t anti-Semites for opposing Zionism.

Greenstein states in his article that Sacks is highly educated, intelligent and well-read. He has also spoken about the need to interpret the Bible in a peaceful way supporting tolerance.

But from Sacks’ own actions and remarks, it seems that Sacks himself is completely the opposite. He’s clearly a Far Right bigot, who talks about tolerance and peace, but in reality sows division and hatred – against gay men and women, Reform Jews, Muslims and immigrants and the Palestinians. He is typical of the Jewish Establishment figures that have come out that smear Corbyn as an anti-Semite, in that he is an arch-Tory, who would not vote for Corbyn even if the Labour party adopted the Knesset definition of anti-Semitism.

I also find it suspicious that Sacks made his comments at this time, just before he’s due to start a week-long series next week on Radio 4, Morality in the 21st Century. Apparently Sacks and his guests are going to talk about social responsibility.

So, more evidence of the Beeb’s Tory bias. Given Sacks’ record, and particularly the episode where he participated in what can only be described as a Fascist march by Israeli storm troopers through East Jerusalem, Sacks has absolutely nothing to teach anyone about morality and social responsibility.

Sacks is a vicious bigot, like Enoch Powell, and it is utterly disgraceful that the Beeb should give him a platform.

3 Responses to “The Racism, Bigotry and Intolerance of Former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks”

  1. A6er Says:

    Reblogged this on Britain Isn't Eating!.

  2. Ctesias62 Says:

    No Sacks please we’re British?
    Sorry, I know levity/poor jokes are inapropriate really. I despair at the fact that this ever shriller desperate mudslinging seems to have a life of it’s own.
    When will this lot and their careerist aiders + abettors on “labour party right” just s.t.f.u. !
    Hope you’re getting better Beastie.

    • beastrabban Says:

      I’m a lot better than I was, thanks Ctesias, but still not back to proper health. But all the better for jokes at the Israel lobby’s expense. I like that ‘No Sacks please, we’re British’. 🙂 I’m afraid I don’t think the aiders and abettors of the mudslinging on the Labour right will shut up until their decisively beaten. Hopefully, that won’t be too long in coming.

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