Critics of Jeremy Corbyn, who is frontrunner to lead the Labour Party, are being smeared as extremists who are trying to stifle criticism of Israel. Mainstream Jewry’s concerns are neither “extreme” nor anything to do with Israel. As we have written before, we are concerned both by Corbyn’s associations and his many supporters’ apparent indifference to them.
Writing in yesterday’s Independent, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown implored readers to ignore the concerns raised by “extreme Zionists” and “the forces of darkness”, writing that “the overreactions of some extreme Zionists these days is tantamount to an attempt to censor all criticism of Israel’s political and military tactics”.
Labour MP John Mann, who Chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism, has complained to the Labour Party after his criticism of Corbyn resulted in a volley of abuse from Corbyn’s supporters, who called him “utter filth” and a “Zionist stooge”. Speaking to the Sunday Express, Mann said: “I have been described as a servant of the Israeli Prime Minister, a Nazi Zionist, a Zionist scumbag. This is all because I chair the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Anti-Semitism.”
The concerns are numerous and well-founded. Hamas and Hezbollah call for a worldwide genocide of Jews but Corbyn called them “friends” and invited them to Parliament. Ra’ed Salah promoted the antisemitic blood libel but Corbyn said “Salah is a voice that must be heard” and invited him to tea at Parliament. Rev Stephen Sizer was censured by the Church for posting a “clearly antisemitic” conspiracy myth about 9/11 on Facebook, but Corbyn protested that he had been “victimised” because he “dares to speak out against Zionism”. Paul Eisen is a self-professed Holocaust denier but we still have no explanation for the photographs of Corbyn at Eisen’s events – Eisen claims that Corbyn has attended “every single one” and even donated.
In response to our previous post on the subject, we received a number of comments on Facebook and Twitter. Some were civil but dismissive, such as the response from Luke Cresswell, a Labour Councillor on Sudbury Town Council who tweeted “He’s anti State of Israel, not anti Jew”. Other comments were vulgar and antisemitic, such as the contribution from Paul Norrison in Kingston upon Hull who commented on our Facebook page: “Jeremy Corbyn for Prime Minister…no one gives a s*** about the Jews, just get on with your lives and stop playing the victims all of the time. Go make something beautiful, contribute to a better tomorrow instead of feeding of the guilt and horror of the past like morose Golem vampires.” We have reported Norrison’s comment to the police.
The grave concern, expressed with rare unanimity by mainstream British Jewry about Jeremy Corbyn’s associations is well-founded and must be addressed. Partisan attempts to smear and whitewash should be seen for what they are. Britain’s Jews have good reason to be worried.
The Campaign Against Antisemitism will always be apolitical and non-partisan. However, we also must not fear to call out antisemitism wherever we see it. Jeremy Corbyn hails from the far-left, and whereas far-right antisemitism is anathema to the far-left, Jewish conspiracy myths and Islamist antisemitism are often accommodated.