Jeremy Corbyn – antisemitic by association


September 6, 2015
Sarah Benton


Corbyn and challenges to political power

By Jonathan Cook, blog
September 02, 2015

Noam Chomsky and other serious critics on the left often have to contend with dismissals from opponents (including most in our political and media elites) that they are conspiracy theorists, or “anti-American” and “anti-West”.

For those who have not taken the time to read Chomsky, such arguments can sound superficially plausible. Does Chomsky’s criticisms of the US and the West not rest on the assumption that their leaders act together, conspiratorially, in bad and exploitative ways against weaker nations? Can all of our leaders really be so rotten? Isn’t it, in truth, more cock-up than conspiracy?

Chomsky is actually talking about structural conditions in our societies that maintain elites in power and allow them to look out for their own interests largely unchallenged.

Here Craig Murray, a former British ambassador to Uzbekistan who has been in the diplomatic wilderness since he turned whistle-blower on British collusion with torture more than a decade ago, makes a very simple observation that can help us understand what Chomsky is talking about.

Murray notes that of today’s crop of senior politicians, media editors, top diplomats and university vice-chancellors, almost all supported the Iraq war in 2003. Not only did such support not harm these individuals’ careers but it appears to have propelled them to even greater things.

The careers of prominent critics of the war, conversely, have tended to suffer. And all this despite the fact that there was huge popular opposition to the war at the time. The folly of the war was obvious to ordinary people but not, it seems, to our brightest and best.

The success of the war crowd can be explained without resorting to conspiracy theories. Chomsky’s structural critique is expressed well below by Murray:

It is that Iraq is the touchstone for adherence to the neo-liberal consensus. All these professionally successful people share a number of attitudes, of which support for the Iraq War is a good indicator. There is a very strong correlation between support for the Iraq War and fierce Zionism. But there is also a strong correlation between support for the Iraq War and support for austerity economics. The strongest correlation of all lies in support for the Iraq War and for “business-friendly” tolerance of corporatism, TTIP, multinational tax avoidance, low taxation and marketization of public services including in education and health.

In short, our key institutions are in the grasp of a set of ideological assumptions (very strange ones) popularly described as neo-liberalism. This neoliberal elite becomes self-selecting, replicating itself through the selection processes imposed by private schools, elite universities, the diplomatic service, the finance system, top legal firms, and the media. If one makes one’s way through this obstacle course, then the door may open to a political career.

By the time politicians reach Westminster, they do not need to be recruited to a cabal. They have simply proven over a long period that they have a strong ideological fit with the institutions that govern us. If not, their careers would have stalled much earlier, in the lower rungs of these institutions, or they would have “dropped out”. The same processes select those who fill top posts in the media and other influential “professions”.

This isn’t true just in Britain, of course. One can see similar processes of filtering and selection in the US and other western societies. That is why trying to tinker with the system invariably fails to bring about real change. These structures have to be overhauled.

That has happened – partially at least – in the past, following major social and economic upheavals like the Second World War. Our elites had to respond to the greater sense of entitlement and empowerment of the working classes, both the men who had been recently demobbed and the women who had gone out to work for the first time in factories to help the war effort.

That was why a Labour government was elected, in spite of the heroic standing of Winston Churchill, the Conservatives’ leader, during the war. A key victory was the establishment of free health care for everyone, in the form of the National Health Service. Hard as it is to recall today, the NHS was long presented as a radical, dangerous idea – reminding us how crazy ideological assumptions can comfortably dominate even democratic systems. The NHS’ popularity has made it difficult politically to reverse that success, but politicians of the right and left have been slowly eroding the principle of free health care for at least the past two decades.

Now the British elites are being challenged again, this time by a potential mass movement led by Jeremy Corbyn. Corbyn is the last gasp of that post-war era of Labour politics, when a class divide was acknowledged and some politicians were elected precisely because they represented the working poor’s interests, often via trade unions.

It is a sign of quite how much the traditional elites have reasserted their power that Corbyn seems an isolated relic from that previous era. It is also a sign of how effectively the system locks the doors to outsiders that the young people who are so fed up with neoliberalism and our political elite have been unable to inject new blood into the system, and must rely on Corbyn instead to represent them. Expect an extremely rocky ride ahead.



Jeremy Corbyn must publicly reject Hamas and Hezbollah, leading Jewish group demands

Jonathan Arkush, president of the Board of Deputies, says Mr Corbyn’s ‘very hostile’ stance of Israel has caused ‘deep concern’ among British Jews

By Ben Riley-Smith, Political Correspondent, Telegraph
August 28, 2015

Jeremy Corbyn must publicly reject Hamas and Hezbollah to win back trust in the Jewish community angered by his “very hostile” views on Israel, according to the head of the body that represents British Jews.

Jonathan Arkush, president of the Board of Deputies, said Mr Corbyn’s links to Holocaust deniers and antisemites have caused “very deep concerns” among Jews that must urgently be addressed.

He told The Telegraph that the Labour leadership front-runner would not be taken seriously unless started giving “straight answers to straight questions” on his links to extremists.

Mr Arkush also said he would demand an immediate meeting with Mr Corbyn if he wins the leadership on September 12 to seek reassurances over his stance towards Israel.

The intervention is the first time Mr Arkush has spoken at length about Mr Corbyn since joined the leadership race and will increase pressure on him to take a tougher line on extremists he has appeared alongside in the past.

Since running for leader Mr Corbyn has had to distance himself from a series of antisemites and Holocaust deniers he shared a platform with during his years as a backbencher and anti-war campaigner.

Among the figures he has been linked with are Paul Eisen, a Holocaust denier, Raed Salah, who has been accused of “virulent antisemitism”, and the Muslim extremist Dyab Abou Jahjah.

Mr Corbyn also once introduced members of Hamas and Hezbollah – terrorist bodies according to the United States – as “friends”. He says this was “diplomatic language in the context of dialogue”.

Speaking to this newspaper with Mr Corbyn widely tipped to win on September 12, Mr Arkush said he would confront the Islington North MP about his links should he become leader.

“The Jewish community has some very deep concerns about the reported links to a Holocaust denier and antisemite. Of course his views are very hostile to Israel,” Mr Arkush said.

“But the Jewish community was also very concerned about his seeming partiality towards Hamas and Hezbollah, which are both proscribed terrorist organisations.”

He added: “Any British politician in a senior capacity will not be taken seriously if he has any partiality towards terrorist organisations.”

Mr Arkush, a lawyer elected as president of the Board of Deputies in May, pledged to demand an urgent meeting with Mr Corbyn if he wins the contest.

He said the concerns over Mr Corbyn’s stance towards Israel were “not at all exaggerated” and “held by a very, very wide consensus of the community”.

A recent poll in the Jewish Chronicle found that almost seven in 10 British Jews are concerned about the prospect of Mr Corbyn becoming Labour leader.

Asked how Mr Corbyn could win back Jewish communities, Mr Arkush said: “By giving clear, straight answers to straight questions and repudiating any sort of support for or links to antisemites, racists, terrorists bodies, people for whom I would expect any serious British UK politicians would want to maintain a great distance.”

Mr Corbyn recently responded to criticism of his links, saying: “My views are that the Holocaust was the most disgraceful and vile process of the history of the 20th century, if not the wider world and that has to be understood by successive generations and it has to be understood by all our children in schools. That surely is important.”

He added: “The idea that I’m some kind of racist or antisemitic person is beyond appalling, disgusting and deeply offensive. I have spent my life opposing racism. Until my dying day I will be opposed to racism in any form.”


Jeremy Corbyn: Do Britain’s Jews fear his Labour leadership election victory?

By Shane Croucher, IBT
August 18, 2015

As the veteran Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn looks set to win by a landslide his party’s leadership election, some British Jews are watching with at best apprehension and at worst outright fear. The firebrand hard left-winger scraped on to the ballot with the backing of fellow MPs who wanted to widen the debate. But the Islington North MP’s ascendancy has cast fresh light on his political career, in particular his associations with antisemites and Holocaust deniers in his campaigning against the Israeli government – and that is causing concern among Jewish communities in Britain.

“Among the Jews I know, Corbyn is a huge topic of conversation,” said a fortysomething Yorkshirewoman who sits on the governing council of a synagogue in northern England, to IBTimes UK. She wanted to remain anonymous.

She said: “Ed Miliband polarised Jewish opinion with his views on Palestine, and Corbyn has further added to the sense of betrayal by the Labour party. I’ve left the party. I know at least two other Jews who have. I know ex-Labour voting Jews who voted Tory at the last election solely on the basis of their perception of the party as anti-Semitic, and who feel Corbyn’s popularity has fully justified their view.

“Those of us still in, or attached to, the Labour party feel disenfranchised. It sits with Jewish tradition – Bundists, Habonim etc, and social ethics – to be inclined towards socialism and I think I and many others would have been natural allies of Corbyn’s if he wasn’t tainted with this sense of anti-Semitic association.”

She added: “I don’t feel safe in England anyway, and I don’t intend to stay. Corbyn as prime minister wouldn’t alter those views either way.”

Corbyn is a vocal supporter of Palestinian rights and a staunch critic of the Israeli government. He is not an antisemite and has campaigned personally against racism. He is, however, under fire over his association with the antisemitic terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah, his past support for Reverend Stephen Sizer who shared antisemitic conspiracy theories about 9/11 on Facebook, allegedly donating to the Holocaust denier Paul Eisen, and sharing platforms with antisemites and Islamists at anti-war or anti-Israel events.

Such is the concern about Corbyn’s links to antisemitism, the Jewish Chronicle listed seven “key questions” he “must answer in full and immediately” if he “is not to be regarded from the day of his election as an enemy of Britain’s Jewish community”. Corbyn has defended his calling Hamas representatives “friends” at a meeting as the innocent use of collegiate language to encourage discussion. He adds that while he profoundly disagrees with what Hamas stands for, it as governor of Palestinian territory is an essential part of any peace process with Israel – so must be engaged. And he said he was not aware of the views of Eisen when he met him and donated money to his organisation Deir Yassin. Corbyn’s supporters accuse his critics of smear-by-association: dirty tactics to stop him winning the Labour leadership.

But Jews in Britain are already worried. They face attack from all sides: the far-right, the Islamists, the far-left. Anti-Semitism has spiked. Hate crime in London jumped by 28% in 2014 to 12,749 incidents, according to Metropolitan Police data. Anti-Semitic hate crime saw the biggest leap of all – up 138% over the year to 495 incidents. During the Labour campaign, a swastika was daubed on a Jewish school gate in Stamford Hill, which has the largest Hasidic community in Europe, along with the words “Yid s**t”.

Often Jews are the proxy victims of Israeli government policy. During the 2014 war on Gaza, British Jews were tarred with guilt-by-association by pro-Palestinian racists – and attacks on Jewish populations outside of Israel increased. This is the hallmark of anti Semitism-masked-as politics: the inability to differentiate between Jews, Judaism, Zionism, Israelis and the Israeli government. To some – apparently a contingent of Corbyn’s support base – they are all one and the same thing.

This can be seen on Twitter. Jewish Twitter users are routinely attacked and questioned about Israel, despite having no connection to Israel other than being Jewish. Some are, ironically, critics of Israeli policy. A parallel would be demanding British Muslims to condemn Saudi Arabia purely because they share – in the broadest sense – a religion. It would not be tolerated in a way that demanding all Jews answer for the actions of Israel apparently is. These double standards and the emboldening of antisemites by Corbynmania are creating legitimate cause for concern among British Jews, many of whom are here because their ancestors sought refuge from the Holocaust in which six million were murdered by the Nazis.

Two particular targets on Twitter are the Jewish journalists Danny Finkelstein and Hugo Rifkind, who work for The Times. Both are bombarded with tweets by far-left antisemites who demand, by virtue of the fact they are Jewish, that they apologise for the actions of Israel; or accuse them of involvement in Jewish conspiracies; or who just outright racially abuse them for being Jewish.

In recent months, more of those tweeting abuse are supporters of Corbyn’s popular campaign to lead Labour. They have Corbyn-supporting Twibbons on their avatars, or they state explicitly their backing. One user tweeted to Rifkind: “You f**k off little weedy Zionist c**t – the country hates you and your ilk. Your time is coming — we know.” The same user had also rewteeted several tweets in support of Corbyn.

The fact is that, despite Corbyn loudly proclaiming that he is against antisemitism and racism, his campaign is inadvertently emboldening the antisemitism contingent of Britain’s far-left, which haunts pro-Palestinian and anti-war campaign groups. And, while some of Corbyn’s supporters have been vocal in their opposition to the anti-Semitism that has flared up during his campaign, others have sought to play it down or divert attention away from it.

“I think all of this discussion is a distraction and a tactic that’s being used,” said the Labour MP Cat Smith on BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour when asked about Corbyn’s association with the likes of Hamas and how that might make Jewish people view the party. Smith is a supporter of Corbyn.

The Community and Security Trust (CST) is a charity that supports British Jews in the fight against anti-Semitism. When contacted by IBTimes UK about Corbyn, the CST directed us to a blog published by its deputy director of communications, Dave Rich, on 8 July. It said:

The problem is not that Corbyn is an anti-Semite or a Holocaust denier – he is neither. The problem is that he seems to gravitate towards people who are, if they come with an anti-Israel sticker on them. He is not alone in this. Corbyn and his supporters may well dismiss this as a cynical effort to deflect their criticisms of Israel, but they would be wrong to do so. Anti-Semitism is a serious problem and Islamist anti-Semitism can be deadly. Jewish concerns about this are sincere and urgent. Antisemitism isn’t something that can be excused or ignored by politicians in pursuit of some supposedly higher political goal. Jeremy Corbyn needs to show the Jewish community that, if elected Labour leader, he won’t bring antisemitism into the heart of the Labour party.

A spokesman for the Board of Deputies, an influential charity which claims to be “the only democratically elected voice of British Jewry”, would not be drawn to give a comment on Corbyn or his campaign because it is not a party political organisation and so does not want to intervene in the Labour leadership election. He added that, though there are some policy concerns, the Board of Deputies would try to work with Corbyn if he is elected.

Even within the parliamentary Labour party, which Corbyn wants to lead, there are concerns from Jews about his connections to antisemites. Ivan Lewis, the shadow Northern Ireland secretary, is a British Jew. He expressed worry about Corbyn in a letter to his local party in Bury.

“Some of [Corbyn’s] stated political views are a cause for serious concern,” Lewis wrote, reported the Guardian. At the very least he has shown very poor judgment in expressing support for and failing to speak out against people who have engaged not in legitimate criticism of Israeli governments but in anti-Semitic rhetoric. It saddens me to have to say to some on the left of British politics that anti-racism means zero tolerance of anti-Semitic, no ifs, and no buts. I have said the same about Islamophobia and other forms of racism to a minority of my constituents who make unacceptable statements.”


Jewish campaign group launches in support of Jeremy Corbyn leadership bid

Community groups supports peace talks in Israel and across the Middle East

By Common Space

September 04, 2015

POLITICAL campaigners within the Jewish community who back “socialism and progressive values” have launched a campaign group to support Jeremy Corbyn’s labour leadership bid.

Corbyn has been subject to insinuations of antisemitism from the pro-Tory Jewish Chronicle due to his support for justice in Palestine.

Now campaign group ‘Jews for Jeremy’ [Jews for Jeremy] has organised pro-peace campaigners from within the Jewish community who support a diplomatic approach to foreign policy and social justice at home.

A statement released by the group, which was founded by campaigner Ian Saville, said: “In international relations, the group asserts that Jeremy Corbyn’s policies offer the best hope for peaceful resolution of conflicts both in the Middle East and the rest of the world.

“Members applaud his efforts to bring together opposing parties to many conflicts in dialogue in a constructive way, and are dismayed that in some cases this has been held against him. The group notes that even Tony Blair and the Israeli government have very recently engaged in such dialogue, and it is unfortunate that it was not begun much earlier.”

Benjamin Young, a supporter of Jews for Jeremy, said: “Peace will only come about when the rights of the Palestinians are upheld and international law is respected.”

Corbyn has been criticised for previously holding meetings in parliament with representatives from Hamas and Hezbollah. Although Corbyn does not support the groups, he says political engagement is required as part of a wider peace process.


Jewish campaign group launches in support of Jeremy Corbyn leadership bid

Community groups support peace talks across the Middle East

By CommonSpace, undated

POLITICAL campaigners within the Jewish community who back “socialism and progressive values” have launched a campaign group to support Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership bid.

Corbyn has been subject to insinuations of anti-semitism from the pro-Tory Jewish Chronicle due to his support for justice in Palestine.

Now campaign group ‘Jews for Jeremy’ has organised pro-peace campaigners from within the Jewish community who support a diplomatic approach to foreign policy and social justice at home.

A statement released by the group, which was founded by campaigner Ian Saville, said: “In international relations, the group asserts that Jeremy Corbyn’s policies offer the best hope for peaceful resolution of conflicts both in the Middle East and the rest of the world.

“Members applaud his efforts to bring together opposing parties to many conflicts in dialogue in a constructive way, and are dismayed that in some cases this has been held against him. The group notes that even Tony Blair and the Israeli government have very recently engaged in such dialogue, and it is unfortunate that it was not begun much earlier.”

Benjamin Young, a supporter of Jews for Jeremy, said: “Peace will only come about when the rights of the Palestinians are upheld and international law is respected.”

Corbyn has been criticised for previously holding meetings in parliament with representatives from Hamas and Hezbollah. Although Corbyn does not support the groups, he says political engagement is required as part of a wider peace process.


Jeremy Corbyn and the UK’s Jewish community

By Colin Shindler, JPost
July 15, 2015

The far-left candidate in the British Labour Party leadership contest, Jeremy Corbyn, is performing very well.

He stands out from the other candidates in projecting a clear vision of the future in an age of austerity and plucks at the socialist heartstrings of many a party member – a yearning for traditional Labour values and an ideological distancing from Tony Blair’s New Labour. Indeed there appears to be a hemorrhaging of the vote for Andy Burnham, the favorite, and a swing to Corbyn instead.

While Corbyn is unassuming, articulate and a conviction politician, he is also a fully-paid up member of the Ken Livingstone generation – albeit less crude and antagonistic – and someone who exemplifies the views of the British far Left on the Israel-Palestine conflict. For example, he publicly apologized recently for the issuing of the Balfour Declaration in 1917, describing it as “an historic mistake.”

Corbyn like Livingstone was born during the post-war era of British decolonization and came of political age during the national liberation struggles of the 1960s, such as in Vietnam, Rhodesia and South Africa.

This coincided with the emergence of Palestinian nationalism and the establishment of the PLO in 1964. For the nascent British New Left, it was therefore easier to identify with the Palestinians. Palestinian nationalism fitted their world outlook much more comfortably than the Zionism of the Israelis – and this was crucially before the settlement drive in the West Bank after the Six Day War.

The previous generation, the Old Left, had fought local fascist groups with the Jews in London’s East End during the 1930s and bore witness to the revelations of the Shoah during the following decade. The Old Left strongly welcomed the rise of a Hebrew republic in the Land of Israel in 1948. This was in stark contrast to the views of the right-wing foreign secretary, Ernest Bevin. His near namesake, Aneurin Bevan, the founder of Britain’s much-admired National Health Service, was a passionate Zionist. It was said at the time that the further Left you went in the Labour Party, the more you became committed to Israel.

The pioneering Zionist experiment captured the imagination of the Labour Left in 1948. Barbara Castle, the fiery advocate of equal opportunities, referred to the kibbutz as “true biblical communism.”

Unlike Corbyn, Bevan differentiated between reactionary nationalist movements and progressive socialist ones.

Indeed, following Nasser’s coup in 1954, Bevan became increasingly disillusioned with the Egyptian leader. By 1956, he was accusing Nasser of “stirring the pot of nationalist passions” to the detriment of bettering the lot of the Egyptian people.

Bevan believed that no radical transformation of Egyptian society had taken place.

In an article in Tribune on August 3, 1956, Bevan wrote: “If a social movement elects to take the path of revolution, it must pursue it to the end and the end is a complete transformation of society accompanied by a transference of power from the old to the new social forces. Judged by this criterion, the movement first led by General Neguib and then by Nasser has not as yet added up to a social revolution or anything like it.”

It is hard to imagine a Corbyn or a Livingstone making such a comment today.

The belief in selective outrage – that some outrages are worthy of condemnation while others are not – defines much of the British far Left today. Whereas Bevan was willing to condemn Stalinism and the incarceration of hundreds of thousands in the Gulag, many on the British Left today turn a blind eye to the actions of authoritarian regimes. Indeed some of Corbyn’s strongest backers within the UNITE union press for “an understanding” of Stalin’s rule and yearn for the good old days of Soviet- style Communism.

Neil Kinnock, who became leader of the Labour Party after its disastrous showing in the election of 1983, was an admirer of Aneurin Bevan and the Old Left. A few months earlier, a rival group on the Labour Left, the Socialist Campaign Group, was established – which Corbyn enthusiastically joined prior to his election to parliament.

Its world outlook was framed by decolonization and a blanket anti-imperialism.

Its foundation also occurred shortly after Operation Peace for Galilee and the Sabra and Shatilla killings – a seminal event in ushering the British Left into the Palestinian camp.

Labour had split in 1981 when many right-wing figures defected and formed the Social Democratic party. This also empowered the Socialist Campaign Group on the far Left to challenge Neil Kinnock’s leadership a few years later – and in one sense to oppose the Old Left’s attachment to Israel.

Corbyn is happy to erect a protective umbrella over many extra-parliamentary elements on the far Left – Stalinists, Trotskyists and Islamists. He has been the chair of the Stop the War Coalition which first emerged during the conflict with the Taliban in Afghanistan and then mushroomed on the eve of the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

He is also a long-time supporter of the Palestinian cause and patron of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. He has visited Gaza six times and expressed support for its besieged inhabitants. Yet no distinction is made between the political rulers of the Palestinians, between nationalists and Islamists, between Fatah and Hamas – they are all the same, they are all simply Palestinians. Wouldn’t Aneurin Bevan have differentiated? This casting of the actors in the conflict into black-and-white roles characterizes this polarized approach. It is a mirror image that some on the Israeli Right hold – those who are unable to discern shades of gray in between. Like many Israelis and Diaspora Jews, Corbyn preaches the need for a Palestinian state, yet this is never accompanied by a comment that he also supports the right of the Jews to national self-determination. Moreover Corbyn and his political reflections on the Israeli Right speak of “Palestine against Israel” – or vice-versa. But shouldn’t a socialist like Corbyn instead express solidarity with the peace camps in Israel and Palestine against their respective rejectionists? Corbyn confines his association with Israelis to the peripheral far Left in Israel rather than developing contacts with the mainstream Left. While he projects a convincing image to Labour Party members in the UK, he is vague and lacking in vision when it comes to the tortuous Israel-Palestine conflict. Perhaps it is easier to endorse public relations on behalf of the Palestinians than to deal with the public reality in the region that will bring about a just peace between both peoples.

Next Monday Corbyn will appear with the other candidates at hustings at a Jewish venue in London. Hopefully he will not evade pertinent questions about his stand on peace through a deceptive eloquence.

But how will he answer the question: “Do the Jews have a right to national self-determination? Yes or no?” Jewish Labour Party members will expect serious answers to serious questions.

The author is an emeritus professor at SOAS, university of London. His book, The Rise of the Israeli Right: From Odessa to Hebron will be published next month by Cambridge University Press.

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