My experience of antisemitism - Miriam Mirwitch

The Labour Party has the power to transform millions of lives for the better. And as activists we’ll do anything to make that a reality. 

From leaflet rounds in the pouring rain to hours spent knocking on doors, we are a part of this movement because we want to see social justice and socialist change.

It has been an enormous privilege to be chair of Young Labour, our party’s youth wing. It was Young Labour which helped to build my confidence as an activist, to train me in campaigning and introduced me to countless friends. Every young activist should have this opportunity.

But as a Jewish woman, the sickening disease of antisemitism had a profound impact on my time as chair, just as it has for countless other Jewish activists.

It started as soon as I was elected: a Labour member and countless trolls attributed my successful election to an Israeli conspiracy. And since then it’s been relentless.

I’ve been harrassed, abused and threatened. Like many fellow Jewish activists, much of this antisemitic targetting has taken place online. I’ve been sent photos of dead children, had my safety threatened and been accused of being a secret Mossad agent more times than I can remember.

Often I’m asked about what inspires this behaviour. Sometimes it’s because I’ve called for action on Labour antisemitism, but more often than not it’s simply for existing in the Labour movement as a Jewish woman.

It’s exhausting to have untrue claims constantly made about our views on foreign or domestic policy because of our religion. Being Jewish doesn’t make you a secret Tory, complicit in the unacceptable actions of foreign governments or secretly plotting for the demise of the movement we love so much.

I’m proud to be Jewish, of our heritage and of our culture. The history of Jewish activism in our movement - from Manny Shinwell to Ruth Smeeth - is incredible. Jewish activists have every right to a place in our movement without facing racist abuse.

I couldn’t be more thankful for the support of family, friends and countless comrades through this time. I would be lying if I tried to say this hadn’t impacted my mental health. I know objectively that the messages accusing me of being secret spy or of evil plots weren’t true, but when you hear these things so often it hurts your own perceptions.

My experience is far from unique. It’s shared by countless other Jewish activists, and especially Jewish women, in our movement. So many have faced worse abuse than I could ever imagine. It terrifies me that the next generation of talented Jewish Young Labour activists may be put off getting involved for fear of abuse.

While we’ve seen promising steps forward with new leadership to tackle antisemitism, we still have a long way to go. We need a Labour movement where every member feels welcome, safe and valued without fearing abuse or discrimination.

Miriam Mirwitch - Jewish Labour member