#32 / Editorial


Just a year ago, on October 29, 2020, Jeremy Corbyn, the former leader of the Labour Party, was expelled from the faction he once presided over after having contested the conclusions of the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s report on antisemitism in the ranks. The controversies over anti-Semitism tied to Corbyn’s tenure had set politicos achatter in Europe. France proved home to some of his most stalwart defenders, who denounced supposed machinations and an instrumentalization of antisemitism in the service of ulterior motives. Jean-Luc Melenchon, head of the country’s far-left France Insoumise party, represented the epitome of this tendency on the French left. Melenchon’s intervention in this debate on the other side of the Channel had a clear logic: to combat what were purported to be fallacious accusations of antisemitism made against the left throughout Europe. But since then, curiously, one has heard little of developments in Britain. The end of the affair, i.e., the publication of the devastating EHRC’s report, the findings of which new Labour Leader Keir Starmer accepted, commenting that the conclusions had led to “a day of shame” for the party, has not been much discussed in France. Melenchon, who has never run from the spotlight, has remained mum on the matter. The calumnies of antisemitism, now documented and proven to have been in fact very real and the product of the British left’s failure to police antisemitism in its midst, have become once again a purely national concern. Or at least one infers this from the silence the report has met with in France, and especially from the quarters of La France Insoumise. A year after the end of an imbroglio that estranged many British Jews from the Labour Party, once seen as their political “home,” K. recapitulates the EHRC investigation and places the bombshell report in a wider European context.

Elie Petit brings us another story from the United Kingdom, where borders open and close. This is not a matter of the mind or the heart, but the stomach: how to provision the Jews of Belfast with kosher food. Belfast’s Jewish community has had to grapple with the administrative nightmare of Brexit, which has menaced the community’s ability to import kosher food, an existential challenge for the city’s Jews. Petit, in contact with the last representatives of this tiny community, recounts the absurd obstacles and makeshift solutions attendant to the provisioning of kosher meat and poultry in post-Brexit Northern Ireland. A succession of precarious adaptations have been necessary over the past three decades so that the remnant might survive, the vestiges of a once-prosperous community. Are Belfast’s Jews, now the victims of collateral damage from Brexit, about to disappear forever?

We are on the trail of Shabbatai Zevi in Albania in our last article. Israeli journalist Benny Ziffer takes us on a trip to this long-overlooked land, once ruled by the iron fist of Enver Hoxha. Nonetheless, from Gjirokastër to Tirana, passing through Berat, there is plenty of Jewish patrimony: traces of the 17th century self-proclaimed messiah who gave rise to Sabbateans, the rescue of Jews during the Holocaust, the close relationship today between Albania and Israel. Getaway assured!

Just one year ago — on October 29, 2020 — Jeremy Corbyn was expelled from the United Kingdom’s Labour Party, which he led from 2015 to 2020. The expulsion followed his reservations about the findings of the EHRC’s report on anti-Semitism in Labour. K. presents here a synthesis. It gives an account of both the reality of anti-Semitism within Labour and the way in which, after Corbyn’s resignation, Labour was able to face up to it. Strangely enough, while a part of the French left was willing to interfere in the English controversies to support Corbyn, it did not find it appropriate to revisit this report.

A victim of Brexit’s collateral damage, the Jewish community in Northern Ireland, founded in 1870, might not live past 150. Indeed, the Brexit deal and its ‘Northern Ireland Protocol’, combined with the 1998 Northern Ireland peace deal (the Good Friday Agreement),concluded at the end of ‘the Troubles,’ created a new customs border, down the Irish sea. And threatened the supply of kosher food and the continuation of the Belfast Jewish community which counts around 100 members.

In search of Sabbataï Zevi, his tomb, and above all his heritage, Benny Ziffer, Israeli journalist and author, invites us on a strange journey to the heart of the Balkans where the presence of the false Jewish messiah and the traces of Judaism continue to imperceptibly infuse the minds. Another way to visit Albania.

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Thanks to the Paris office of the Heinrich Böll Foundation for their cooperation in the design of the magazine’s website.