Karen Yossman

The zeal of a pro-Corbyn Jewish convert

When Jeremy Corbyn attended a Passover dinner hosted by Jewdas, it was the first that many Jews had even heard of this fringe outfit. But the meeting proved to some of Corbyn’s supporters that concerns about anti-Semitism within the Labour party were overblown. After all, Jews at the event were happily speaking up for Jeremy Corbyn, so what was all the fuss about?

One of those who attended the dinner and was keen to defend Corbyn was Charlotte Nichols, a 27-year-old Young Labour committee member. Nichols’ impassioned defence of Corbyn’s presence at the event in which she argued that ‘it is not for non-Jewish people, in criticising Corbyn’s attendance, to determine what is and isn’t a legitimate expression of the Jewish faith’ was widely quoted in reports, among others, in the Guardian and the New York Times.

Curiously, however, nowhere in her article did Nichols find space to mention that she converted to reform Judaism last year (in 2014, she referred to herself as an Irish Catholic). Yet this hasn’t prevented Nichols from apparently being elevated to become one of the leading voices of the Jewish left. When the elected Board of Deputies released a statement condemning Corbyn’s lack of action against anti-Semitism and calling for a protest in Westminster, Nichols tweeted in response: ‘Where was their mandate for this overtly political demo?’

The next day she granted an interview to ITN in which she claimed that the Board’s statement supported Corbyn’s followers in their belief that claims of anti-Semitism were merely ‘a tool to bash Corbyn with’. The following week, Nichols wrote a piece for the Jewish Chronicle in which she also defended Corbyn. Again she neglected to mention her recent conversion. 

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