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Is Jeremy Corbyn a friend to anti-Semites? He needs to answer this question

Jeremy Corbyn, now odds-on favourite to become next Labour leader (Danny Lawson/PA Wire)

One of the points of an election campaign is that it gives voters the chance to scrutinise the candidate and their record. Consider how the American public is now subjecting Hillary Clinton and that private email affair to minute examination. And this is only right. After all, Mrs Clinton may be the next President.

Jeremy Corbyn may be the next Prime Minister (though it is something of a long shot). He should be subjected to a greater level of scrutiny than he has been. We need to look closely at his association with terrorist organisations. He has longstanding ties with several dubious individuals and groups; it may be that these associations are above board, but if that is the case, it is a case that needs to be argued. It is simply not good enough to brush aside the questions being asked. They are legitimate questions.

Is Mr Corbyn a friend of anti-Semites? These are questions he needs to answer, and soon, if he is to retain credibility, though, sadly, for many in British politics, credibility is a marginal issue compared to ideological purity.

Beyond the questions about Mr Corbyn, we need to ask ourselves about anti-Semitism. There is strong evidence that anti-Semitism is on the increase in Britain. This should bother us, and it should bother us a great deal. It is perfectly true that the Jews in this country are a tiny minority, but that is precisely the point. If we tolerate anti-Semitism, or turn a blind eye to it, or claim it is an exaggerated problem, then we legitimise not just hatred of the Jews, which is wrong of itself, but all sorts of other hatreds as well in future. When we legitimise anti-Semitism, we legitimise hatred as part of political discourse, and we make it harder for politics to be the reasoned conversation it should be. Anti-Semitism, if not tackled, could allow our entire body politic to be poisoned. It is not just a problem for Jews. It is a problem for everyone. It should be a problem for Jeremy Corbyn too.