Saturday, 11 August 2018

Wonder why Britain’s Jewish community doesn’t trust Corbyn?

With all the stories in recent weeks about Labour and anti-Semitism, it would be understandable if some members started to suffer some kind of “Jewish fatigue”.

But the reason for coming back to it is simple: normal Labour politics is currently suspended, as people gaze on in horror at the internal, self-inflicted crisis currently unfolding. We are witnessing something entirely unprecedented in the party’s century-long history: the slow-but-now-accelerating implosion of a party leadership, if not perhaps the party itself as well. And because of an infection with one thing this, of all parties, had never thought to have to endure: racism.

At the same time, we have a leadership which is so inept, so arrogantly convinced that this is all overblown, that it is now embarked on a collision course with the rest of the political planet.

We might first look at the dropping of the investigation into Margaret Hodge. The extraordinary conclusion we must draw from this matter is that it was not because Hodge backed down (although that was what the Leader’s office stupidly tried to spin, convincing precisely no-one in the Lobby). It was, on the contrary, that Corbyn knew that he could not win. That is, that the most he could say was that Hodge was rude to him: in the rough and tumble world of politics, hardly grounds for suspension.

Let’s just reflect on that for a second.

The leader of the Labour party and of HM Opposition, a potential prime minister, judged (presumably on legal advice) that he would struggle to prove that he was not a racist.

But it makes total sense when you consider the other facts brought to light this week.

In an interview with PressTV, Corbyn implies that Israel’s right to exist is in question (anti-Semitic under the IHRA definition). And we also find him – thanks to academic blogger James Vaughan for this – chairing a 2010 meeting chock-full of anti-Semites, who are busy calling Israelis Nazis (also anti-Semitic under the IHRA definition). On Holocaust Memorial Day. But I’m sure that day was chosen just at random, eh, Jeremy?

Quite simply, we can see that the IHRA definition has been rejected, not just because many of Corbyn’s supporters would fall foul of it but because the man himself would. Yes, the Leader of the Opposition.

Finally, let us just look at the last, and perhaps ugliest, revelation (in a crowded field, admittedly).

Twenty-four years ago, Jeremy Corbyn signed a motion (thread here, h/t @TimesCorbyn) supporting two convicted, pro-Palestinian bomb-makers who had injured 20 people in explosions at the Israeli Embassy and Balfour House. In London. They got 20 years each.

Even if you accept that Palestinian terrorists – sorry, “freedom fighters” – are justified in bombing civilians on Israeli soil, which technically an embassy is (a stretch for most of us, let’s face it), these terrorists clearly did not differentiate between “Jews” and “Israelis”. The victims were Londoners.

Corbyn and others claimed it was an “unsafe conviction”, yet it went through the Court of Appeal and the European Court of Human Rights, both times quashed. No-one could reasonably say they had not been through due process.

Even if – and, frankly, it seems to be an enormous “if”, in light of the above – they might just be genuinely innocent, it was evidenced through the trial that they wanted above all to undermine the recently-signed Oslo Peace Accords. Remember that Corbyn is a man who has always maintained that his only relationship with organisations such as Hamas has been as an even-handed party looking for peace. And yet here he was, at absolute minimum actively helping to undermine a fragile, existing peace process.

Talking of Oslo, one of Corbyn’s financial donations during his first leadership campaign was from one Hamas supporter, Ibrahim Hamami, described by the Guardian as follows:

Only one donation from the Friends of Al-Aqsa’s fundraising dinner has been declared. Ibrahim Hamami, who the Telegraph has claimed is an opponent of the Oslo peace accords, and wrote in support of a wave of stabbings of Jews in Israel in 2015, gave £2,000 to Corbyn, the register of MPs’ interests shows. Approached at the time by the Telegraph, he said: “I am not answering your questions. Get lost.”

Nice. Friends of Al-Aqsa, for the record, is a pro-Hamas organisation known for its links to Holocaust denial.

The truth is this: Jeremy Corbyn is not just a racist and an anti-Semite, as Hodge called him.

He is a fraud, a man who pretends to want peace, but in fact wants one side to win and the other to lose. There is a wealth of information out there with which you could easily write a similar story about his support for the IRA. There, but always plausibly deniable to those who don’t look too closely.

Now, putting all this together, imagine if you were a North London Jew. Perhaps you had a son or daughter working as a volunteer at one of the charities in Balfour House, or you knew someone who was injured in the blast. How would you feel about the man working to free the bombers, who furthermore had been demonstrated to be guilty in three separate trials?

People who suffer discrimination, and/or related violence, tend to have long memories, as any resident of Northern Ireland will tell you.

And people wonder why Britain’s Jewish community doesn’t trust Corbyn.

It is nothing to do with the Israeli government, which your average, reasonable British Jew nowadays often has critical words. It is about an attack which was made on British people, on British soil, in order to prevent peace abroad.

It has been notable in the last few days, even to those of us who have closely followed Corbyn’s exploits for years, how an event many of us were not even conscious of, from a quarter-century ago, is still ruefully remembered by many of that community.

No, long before he ever became leader, Corbyn was busy alienating them. They knew about him, all right: they had his measure. They just never seriously expected that he would be running the party that was for so many years their natural home.

They remember. And they will, quite rightly, not let this go. Neither should they.

This post first published at Labour Uncut

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