Cross-posted from my criminally underused blog Marc’s Words
It hasn’t been a great weekend for Jeremy Corbyn or his Labour Party. Deputy Leader Tom Watson said:
“This is one of those moments when we have to take a long, hard look at ourselves, stand up for what is right and present the party as fit to lead the nation – or disappear into a vortex of eternal shame and embarrassment,”
In the same article they reported Watson’s comments in The Guardian dropped yet another bombshell:
“Watson’s intervention came as Corbyn was forced to “entirely disassociate” himself from an organisation whose website lists him as a member of its international advisory panel and which openly supported a prominent writer convicted of Holocaust denial”
In an article for Haaretz entitled ‘Dial Down the Hysteria on anti-Semitism in Corbyn’s Labour’ Mehdi Hasan lectures Jews to ignore Corbyn and pay attention to racists outside the UK instead:
“Don’t lose sight of the bigger threat. How can Jews feel safe in a Europe in which the far right is on the march? Go to Poland, where the government has passed a law denying any Polish complicity in the Holocaust; or go to Austria, where there is a proposal to force Jews to obtain permits to buy kosher meat. In Germany, police statistics attributed nine out of 10 anti-Semitic crimes in 2017 to “members of far-right or neo-Nazi groups.””
To be honest this is the kind of obfuscation that brought the tiny Jewish community and the Labour Party to a crisis in the first place:
“you can commit to both defeating anti-Semitism and electing a Corbyn-led government. You can strive to protect both Jews and criticism of Israel.” He adds.
He fails to explain why we can’t be against both Corbyn’s brand of antisemitism in Labour and the Austrian Far Right at the same time.
Antisemitism emanating from Islamist sources didn’t warrant even a mention in Hasan’s article just as it doesn’t warrant a mention in Corbyn’s non-apology to the Jewish community. Corbyn has surrounded himself with Islamist antisemites for years.
Mehdi says (to the readers of Haaretz):
“Stop conflating Jews and Israel. This point applies as much to defenders of the Jewish state as it does to anti-Semitic bigots. The joint editorial in those three papers lambasted Labour for making a (false) distinction between “racial anti-Semitism” and “political anti-Semitism targeting Israel.” This is positively Orwellian: political criticism of a state or ideology cannot be compared to or equated with racial or religious abuse. “
But what do we do when advocates for Palestinian rights are antisemitic? Or when antisemites couch their hatred for Jews in anti-Zionist rhetoric?
Mahmoud Abbas himself could only bring himself to recognise that the Holocaust happened the way the history books say it did in 2014:
Mr. Abbas has been vilified as a Holocaust denier because in his doctoral dissertation, published as a book in 1983, he challenged the number of Jewish victims and argued that Zionists had collaborated with Nazis to propel more people to what would become Israel.
(At some point you’ll stop thinking about Abbas and start pondering which university awards doctorates for theses that deny the fact of the attempted genocide of the Jews).
The Hamas charter says:
But even if the links have become distant from each other, and even if the obstacles erected by those who revolve in the Zionist orbit, aiming at obstructing the road before the Jihad fighters, have rendered the pursuance of Jihad impossible; nevertheless, the Hamas has been looking forward to implement Allah’s promise whatever time it might take. The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said:
The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him! This will not apply to the Gharqad, which is a Jewish tree (cited by Bukhari and Muslim).
The supposed “conflation” Mehdi talks about is a fact of the Israeli Arab conflict. It’s also a factor of the discourse surrounding the conflict and the way that supporters of Palestine relate to it, just listen to Corbyn’s own excuse:
“In the past, in pursuit of justice for the Palestinian people and peace in Israel/Palestine, I have on occasion appeared on platforms with people whose views I completely reject. I apologise for the concerns and anxiety that this has caused.”
Apparently it’s not possible for him to campaign for Palestine without appearing on platforms with people who hate Jews.
In practise many of those who advocate for Palestine and Palestinian rights have been shown to espouse antisemitic conspiracy theories, holocaust denial and blatant Jew hatred. When it was pointed out by David Collier that activists, including one of the directors of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, were sharing antisemitic material on Facebook the PSC ignored him almost entirely. The only action they took was to post a bland message on their Facebook page.
Jeremy Corbyn was the patron of the PSC when Collier’s report came out. He is still the patron of PSC and he has done just as much to rid the PSC of antisemitism as he has to rid the Labour Party of it.
Jews are never going to be able to relate to a political party led by a man with an affinity for sharing platforms with members of terrorist movements sworn to kill them. They can’t be a part of a party composed of activists who deny the Holocaust and regard it as their solemn duty to make sure everyone knows that the Rothschilds together with Israel are taking over the world. Mehdi writes:
Has he been slow to take action against a handful of anti-Semites inside his party? Yes. Does he suffer from an “unconscious bias” on the left that doesn’t take allegations of anti-Semitism as seriously as it takes allegations of, say, Islamophobia? Probably. Could he have been more forceful and proactive in denouncing left-wing anti-Semitism much earlier on? Definitely. But does a Corbyn-led Labour government pose a threat to the very existence of British Jewry? Don’t. Be. Silly.
The connections with the Holocaust denier Paul Eisen, the invitation of Raed Salah the blood libeller to tea, the platform he shared with antisemite Abou Jahjah. The list is endless…and missing from the issues he presumes Jews might have with Corbyn. Hasan even admits that:
Earlier this week, a recording emerged of Peter Willsman, a Corbyn ally and member of Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC), angrily accusing Jewish “Trump fanatics” of fabricating evidence of anti-Semitism.
Willsman is hardly the only Corbyn ally to expose an antisemitic nerve. Former head of the disciplinary committee Christine Shawcroft decided to ignore Holocaust denial in the ranks of the party and did so with the full backing of the rest of the NEC. Even when this was all brought to light the Shadow Chancellor argued she should retain her seat on the NEC. The Times has just exposed the Party compliance unit of colluding with those who had shared antisemitic imagery online to ensure they escape punishment:
Those with close links to the leadership have been exonerated because party bosses claim they cannot find evidence that they are party members, a claim it is difficult for Corbyn’s critics to contest.
Harry’s Place was busy pointing out Michael Calderbank’s comments back in February but when he was reported to the Labour Party The Times says that:
Labour’s compliance unit replied: “We have been unable to identify the individual as a member of the Labour Party.”
This is surprising since in posts for Labour Briefing last year, Calderbank billed himself as “secretary of Brent Central constituency Labour Party”. Calderbank also used to work for John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, and has a Commons pass sponsored by Ian Lavery, the party chairman. He is also co-editor of the left-wing magazine Red Pepper and is listed in the register of MPs’ staff as a researcher for five trade unions.
This is the Party Mehdi argues Jews should vote for?
What I thought he would do was use his Haaretz platform to call for solidarity with Jews in the UK. What I was hoping he would say was that as a Muslim who knows what it’s like to suffer racism from the very people who are elected to protect him he calls for solidarity with British Jewry in their moment of need.
What I was hoping he would say was Enough is Enough.
But when it comes to Jews there’s not much going around in the way of solidarity from the left.
I guess they’re too busy protesting against the Far Right in Austria. Except that they’re not doing that either.