“Part of what it is to be courageous is to see reality accurately and to respond well in the face of it." ~ Jonathan Lear

15 August 2015

Corbyn’s links to anti-Semites and terrorists bring shame to Labour


If the Labour Party elects Jeremy Corbyn as leader as now seems likely, it will deserve everything that follows.

I don’t mean that in relation to his support for policies like raising taxes and nationalising the railways and energy companies, though the latter would be fiendishly difficult and very expensive to do (before the government even starts trying to manage them).

No, a Corbyn-led Labour Party competing on these and other old Left policies would struggle to win elections, but it wouldn’t bring shame on itself. These are solid left-wing positions with some good rationale and decency behind them, even if they may be unwise.

Jeremy Corbyn MP, Labour leadership elecion front-runner
Most anti-Corbyn campaigners around Labour have been fighting on this ground, seeking to appeal to Labour members and supporters on the basis that Corbyn is ‘unelectable’, as if that is argument enough. But it isn’t. I don’t blame anyone for being idealistic and seeking to break beyond the narrow bounds of political activity and debate in this country. Sometimes you’ve got to stand up for what you believe in and do your best to convince others you are correct – otherwise you are just filling space.

Right and wrong matters in politics. On the left we wouldn’t express support for racist and terrorist organisations because it would be convenient for us.

Or would we?

As it turns out of course, this is precisely what Corbyn has done, though not to fit in with the views of the Great British public but with the particular tribe of hard left anti-Western activists within whose circles he moves.

In an increasingly notorious video filmed in 2009, Corbyn explains to his Stop the War Coalition how it is “my pleasure and my honour” to host “our friends from Hezbollah” in Parliament while lamenting that “friends from Hamas” will not be able to attend because the Israelis will not let them.

Now, leaving aside the terrorist organisation Hezbollah for sake of saving space and time, let’s have a look at a passage from Hamas’ constitution:


“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!’”


There’s plenty more where that came from, and there’s plenty more evidence about Corbyn which should concern us too. As James Bloodworth among others has pointed out, the Stop the War Coalition which Corbyn chairs has basically supported attacks on British troops in Iraq. He shares political platforms with individuals who advocate literally pushing Jews and Christians aside in the street and getting them to pay jizya (a special tax for non-Muslims) in order to make them know they are inferior. And these examples are just the tip of the iceberg.

No one I have seen says that Corbyn himself is anti-Semitic, but his associations and praise for anti-Semites (including violent ones) shows very poor judgement at the very least.

As the Campaign Against Antisemitism says though, “Perhaps more worrying than Corbyn’s association with antisemites is that this appears not to bother his supporters.”

Now Labour prides itself on its anti-racism and commitment to tackling racism and religious bigotry. But as far as I am aware only one Labour MP - Ivan Lewis - has come out and even questioned Corbyn's support for anti-Semites and terrorist groups, let alone condemned them. One. And he's Jewish.

Imagine if Corbyn had a habit on appearing on political platforms with members of UKIP and talking of them as ‘our friends’. The condemnation from all parts of Labour and the left would be incendiary; he would be branded repeatedly as a racist, including by senior members of the party; he would quickly become persona non grata. But UKIP doesn’t advocate racism, let alone advocate slaughtering certain racial groups.

When it comes to being ‘friends’ with organisations which pledge themselves to killing Jews, the silence from Labour and the wider left is deafening.

That the ‘mainstream’ leadership candidates haven’t attacked Corbyn for these troubling links brings shame on them – principally for showing tolerance towards something that should not be tolerated, but also as politicians trying to win an election. It shows a lack of moral fibre and also of political fighting spirit.

To me, it seems indicative of how internal Labour politics works – that the mainstream candidates have all been concentrating on appealing to the internal Labour electorate, using all the equivocations and coded language that Labour people use to appeal to each other. They have been practising the sort of narrow transactional politics that is ubiquitous in the party, based on making offers and promising favours to the various interest and pressure groups around the party rather than making a case based on anything bigger and wider.

Corbyn has come across as relatively authentic compared to these others. But his election would be a disaster for Labour – as indeed it should be.

But why the silence about Corbyn’s friendships with obvious racists and religious bigots?

I would put it down partly to herd behaviour and partly to the conventional ideology of anti-racism and ‘equalities’. Some (not all) of the anti-Semites that Corbyn hangs out with are Muslims and have brown skin. In the structural (rather than behavioural) sense of racism favoured by most of the left, they are therefore people who suffer racism; they cannot perpetrate it, they are victims.

On the left we're quick to attack any vague sign of racism as long as it fits in with these structural racism conventions. But Jews as mostly white-skinned don't fit that narrative. Indeed Corbyn is very much part of the anti-racism movement.

But now the word is out that we tolerate and even indulge racism as long as it is against people of white skin-colour, in this case Jews (though interestingly not if they were immigrants, in which case they would be defended). The word is out that we are basically sympathetic to terrorism if it is against Britain, British troops or Jews.

This will not go down well with the Great British public of course. If Corbyn wins the Labour leadership, it will be a disaster for Labour, but then again it should be a disaster for Labour.

Frankly, it’s an indictment of us that his links with anti-Semitism and Islamic terrorism (not to mention IRA terrorism during the Troubles) haven’t killed the Corbyn candidature. Much of the damage has surely already been done, even if he doesn’t win the leadership.


Despite these views above, I wouldn’t support Labour MPs seeking to depose Corbyn if and when he is elected. With the odd caveat about Tories and Greens registering to vote for their own partisan reasons – and how boring it has been for the most part - the leadership contest has been a great exercise in democracy, with more than 600,000 now registered to participate in it. If Corbyn wins, he will have a mass mandate from the wider ‘Labour movement’.

Breaking with that mandate will mean breaking from the party, so if MPs aren’t prepared to abide with his leadership, they should leave and perhaps set up a new grouping or party. The sort of politics that Corbyn shares will ultimately have to be defeated in the court of public opinion and in elections, not through internal Labour Party manoeuvrings. The far left has remained strong within the party. It’s well-organised and well-motivated. It’s not going away. Perhaps now is its time.


As for me, I shall be voting for None of the Above, as I have been doing in too many internal Labour selections in recent times. I don’t know what is to be done with Labour, but I don’t see much evidence any of the candidates do either. Now is a time for clear heads and brave hearts, yet these seem to have been distinctly lacking over the past few months (and indeed, you could say, the past few years). The choice looks like one between Corbyn and ‘more of the same’. Neither of those looks remotely appealing to me.


For more on the Labour Party, see The Labour Party, and other party politics page.

7 comments:

  1. Mostly agree with this. What do you think of the polls which suggest he would be a popular leader with many across the political spectrum? Does this mean that those whose main argument against him is that he would make Labour unelectable need to think about whether in fact their real problem is that they just couldn't support his policies? Or do you think his popularity is a silly season blip, in part?

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    1. I'm not an expert on polling, but I do know that at this early stage most people will have barely heard of Corbyn, let alone know what he's all about. They are more likely to have heard of him recently than the others, and what's more heard that he's shaking up what is a pretty unimpressive Labour establishment.

      I do think he is unelectable, but that is once people know what he is all about. We need to see in order to judge, and the other candidates are seemingly being careful not to bring any toxic controversy into the contest. It looks like they might pay for that though, and the Tories won't be quite as kind when the time comes.

      At present, I think the Tories are following Napoleon's dictum: "Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake."

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  2. You really should be published in a major newspaper. That was a great overview of why he is wholly inappropriate.

    For me, I feel like I'm living in a slow motion car crash. Watching economic events in Asia, I am more certain than ever that we are 12 - 18 months away from at least a recession here and possibly a full blown financial crisis. Living in a big city like Manchester, there are days when you can feel the tension rising. I fear there is a lot of pain ahead before we get back on anything like an even kiel in this country.

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    1. Hi Phil, thanks for your kind words. I can see where you're coming from. With the intensifying forces of globalisation and continual mass immigration, we are in a state of continuous flux and upheaval which naturally causes anxiety. China going down the economic pan as seems quite likely will have huge knock-on effects all over the world which will not be pleasant. I secretly half-hope for it because it might make property vaguely affordable, but a property crash in Britain would actually be a disaster because so many people and institutions are heavily invested in it. We shall see...

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  3. I don't know - I have an absolute hatred of the kind of groups Corbyn has associated himself with over his career, but I just don't think it's as reductive as all that. i feel as though his relationships with STW and the rest grows from a vague anti-establishment politics that would fade very rapidly were he in power. I have anecdotes from friends who got him to sign his support for imprisoned Iranian trade unionists when Galloway and the like refused to even acknowledge their existence - and we've already seen him switch to a much clearer policy in support of EU membership once it became clear he couldn't just be vaguely opposed to European 'corporatism'. Plus, the kind of people he'd have around him in a shadow cabinet have far better records on these issues, obviously like John McDonnell. I'm faintly optimistic.

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  4. Gordon Brown delivered his big speech today and mentioned Corbyn's associations without mentioning Corbyn.

    He said:

    ‘And I have to say that if our global alliances are going to be alliances with Hezbollah and Hamas and Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela and Vladimir Putin’s Russia, there is absolutely no chance of building a worldwide alliance that can deal with poverty and inequality and climate change and financial instability.’

    So there you go.

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  5. Read the Talmud and see what it says about non-jews. Also whilst you are at it, read what the Talmud says about Jesus.

    Hezbollah are the only force in the Middle East fighting ISIS and protecting Christians.

    Islamism is vile and some aspects of Zionism are equally as problematic.

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