In an ominous sign for the New Year, last weekend the worst happened and the execrable Jeremy Corbyn, that “not an antisemitic bone in his body” British MP with an unusual penchant for anti-Semitic “friends” – the likes of Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Islamic Movement – was elected as the new leader of the Labour Party.
Veteran parliamentarian Jeremy Corbyn, whose far-left credentials have found favor in his party even as his overtures to radical Islamists caused concern among British Jews, on Saturday overwhelmingly beat out his three younger and more centrist opponents to become the new head of Britain’s main opposition Labour Party. Corbyn, who has been empathetic to Hamas and Hezbollah — terror groups committed to destroying Israel — is widely regarded as one of the British MPs most hostile to Israel.
Winning 59.5 percent of the ballot in the first round — more than the half required — left Corbyn the clear victor, and negated the need for a second round of voting.
The prime question occupying our minds is the “Jewish question”, which the Times of Israel investigates in its article Is there a place for British Jews in a Corbyn-led Labour Party? (emphases are mine):
A strong reflection of British Jewry’s behind-the-scenes unhappiness is the reluctance of many in the organized Jewish community to speak to The Times of Israel about the impact of a Corbyn-led Labour Party.
The lobby group, Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) refused to comment until the result of the race for leader was announced when asked if LFI would invite Corbyn, as is traditional for the leader of the party, to its fringe events at the party’s annual conference in Brighton at the end of September. That is to say, would it welcome the man who has pronounced Hamas and Hezbollah to be his “friends” and who, in turn, has been endorsed by them?
Jonathan Arkush, the relatively newly elected president of the Board of Deputies, suggested that behind closed doors the prospect of how to cope with Corbyn is causing convulsions. He issued a statement to The Times of Israel speaking of “very deep concerns” on the part of the Jewish community about “Corbyn’s reported links to a Holocaust denier and other individuals with anti-Semitic track records and about his hostile views on Israel.”
“The community has also been very troubled by his seeming friendship towards Hamas and Hezbollah, which are both proscribed terrorist organizations. Any British politician in a senior capacity will not be taken seriously if he has any partiality towards terrorist bodies,” said Arkush.
But while some Jewish leaders are wringing their hands at the prospect of a Corbyn-led Labour Party, there were indications that Corbyn himself is less than enamoured of the prospect of dealing with the Jewish community. His campaign has attracted a deluge of criticism from those appalled at some of his links and supporters.
The Labour MP John Mann, who is not Jewish and who is chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Antisemitism, has received a ton of anti-Semitic abuse which he claimed came from those styling themselves Corbyn supporters.
“Jewish party members [have told me] that they had been accused of dual loyalty. I have very serious concerns about Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters. This began six weeks ago when I challenged the membership system. I said it was crazy. It seems I was right. I have been described as a servant of the Israeli Prime Minister, a Nazi Zionist, a Zionist scumbag,” Mann told the Jewish Chronicle.
He complained to Corbyn’s campaign, which pledged to root out anti-Semitic activists. But last week the Jewish Chronicle, quoting a “well-placed source” in the MP’s campaign team, declared that the unwillingness to deal “head-on” with the various issues worrying the Jewish community had come from Corbyn himself.
Heavy hints thrown out by Corbyn’s inner circle suggest that – despite denials – he may well move to “de-select” sitting MPs, particularly targeting those who have voiced opposition to him. Essentially this means that the hard-Left joins a constituency party and at the earliest opportunity pushes through a vote against the local MP, while proposing its own Leftist candidate in the MP’s place.
Among those in the firing line of such a move are said to be MPs such as Ivan Lewis, Shadow Minister for Northern Ireland and a minister in governments led by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown; the two Jewish MPs for Liverpool, Louise Ellman and Luciana Berger; and the two Labour MPs for Ilford, Wes Streeting and Mike Gapes.
In fact this is precisely what happened, as you will see further on in this post.
… Adrian Cohen is chairman of the London Jewish Forum, a grassroots group which was set up originally to provide the community with a way of working with the controversial London mayor, Ken Livingstone. Cohen told The Times of Israel, “Judging by some of the comments appearing in social media during the election campaign, anti-Semitism has been allowed to flourish with little attempt to address it by large parts of the Left of the party which purports to be anti-racist.”
He forecast that if Corbyn won, there would probably be greater resources going to the Stop The War Coalition, of which Corbyn is chairman, the Palestine Solidarity Movement, of which Corbyn is a patron, and “more support in general for BDS, all of which is going to create a difficult atmosphere for the vast majority of British Jews given their association with Israel.”
Cohen put it starkly: “We are going to see a severe erosion of support from Jews for the Labour Party. Many traditional Labour voters will feel disenfranchised.”
The article mentions a “Jews for Jeremy” group, your typical grovelling court Jews. But what of those Jews who wish to remain in the Labour Party while still opposing Corbyn? Life is not going to be easy to say the least:
The confusion and anger felt within the Jewish community about the Labour Party can be heard when speaking to Neil Nerva, vice-chairman of the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM), the successor to Poale Zion and which has official, formal affiliation to the party.
Nerva acknowledges “the Jewish community can’t write off the leader of the Opposition” and says “we must engage.” But he is sadly aware that the volume of anti-Semitism voiced during Corbyn’s campaign has made many Jews wary, to say the least, of staying within the Labour fold.
His answer is to call for as many Jews as possible to re-join trade unions and ask for the top echelons of the party to address the anti-Semitic wave and deal with it appropriately.
There is considerable fear that in a Corbyn-led Labour Party, those trade unions which have a boycott Israel policy in place but which have as yet not implemented it, will now be encouraged to do so.
Jeremy Newmark is vice-chair of Borehamwood & Elstree Labour Party and was a Labour candidate for Hertsmere Borough Council in May 2015. He is also a member of the executive of the Jewish Labour Movement and a former chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC).
Newmark … believes that “there is a limit to what central communal institutions can achieve… There will already be intensive behind-the-scenes discussions with allies and contacts across the broader Labour movement. There will be back-channel discussions with key members of Corbyn’s team. …
Newmark’s advice is that “in a Corbyn-led Labour party, … In order to shape a Labour Party that is sensitive to Jewish concerns the community will need people who are positioned and able to speak up and vote at local constituency meetings; …
“All of this requires long-term investment in localized grassroots political training, advocacy and activism. There is every indication that JLC and others are working hard to deliver this,” said Newmark.
Newmark told the Times of Israel: “I am sure that there will be those Jewish Labour members whose first reaction will be to walk away from a Corbyn-led Labour party. I understand that. But that is the very response that will allow Israel’s case and our other concerns to be lost by default.
But he insisted that in an area where the campaign against Israel’s legitimacy was being waged in civil society, in trade unions and NGOs, the stance of the Labour Party is still influential.
I do not envy those British Jewish Labourites one bit. They are not going to have an easy life for quite a long while, at least until the Labour Party comes to its senses and gets rid of Corbyn.
British Jewish blogger Ray Cook talks of feeling as if he fell down the rabbit-hole:
I wouldn’t mind that Corbyn has become leader of the Labour Party were it not that this means the Israel haters and the ‘anti-Zionists’ now have a delusional Marxist as their cheerleader.
Corbyn is the apotheosis of Israel hate which morphs seamlessly with Jew hate. I do not accuse him of the latter, but he and his ilk seem to have a blind spot when it comes to the realities of of what ‘Free Palestine’ means for Jews and Judaism.
Now we shall see the Four Horsemen of the Socialist Apocalypse – Corbyn, Livingstone, Galloway and Abbot – reborn, nay, resurrected as part of an inverted, nightmare universe where Good is Evil and Evil is tolerated as long it hates Israel.
‘We are all one’ he says. ‘If only’, I say.
This is the delusion of the Left; to see the world not as it is but how you want it to be. And then, think up some stupid policies you hope will make it that way.
And this other ‘oneness’ is the same ‘oneness’ that jack-booted its way across Europe in the 30s and its the same ‘oneness’ that sent millions to the Gulags and its the same ‘oneness’ that killed millions in the Cultural Revolution.
It’s not your cosy comradeship of the Left sort of oneness, it’s the oneness which says to hell with your democracies and your liberties and your human rights and your inclusiveness; to hell with 500 years of building European civilisation. You do what we do, believe what we believe or else.
This is the danger of Corbyn. Not that he wants to nationalise or re-nationalise everything that moves, not that he wants green policies but wants to re-open coalmines (WTF?) . The danger is that he will embolden the intolerant and bolster the haters.
Referring back to the possibility of Corbyn removing sitting Jewish MPs, this is exactly what happened with Ivan Lewis who was summarily dismissed from his job as Shadow Minister for Northern Island despite offering to remain in place until a replacement was found.
Talk about a typical Marxist intolerance of differing opinions!
The political blog Harry’s Place documented the revolting glee displayed at the Jewish MP’s dismissal – reminiscent of an Orwellian “two-minute hate”. Here are just two vile examples displaying some classic Jew-hatred:
Harry’s Place also points to an equally relevant question: Is Corbyn good for Britain? The answer would seem to be No. An example from this weekend – Corbyn refused to sing the British national anthem at the Battle of Britain commemoration ceremony! How low can you go?!
… the political ascent of a man who admires Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez and keeps company with Holocaust deniers is another milepost in Britain’s long decline amid a broader unraveling in the West.
Then there is the wider political context in which Mr. Corbyn now finds his place. We are living through an era of bitter, and usually justified, disillusion with political establishments. In Europe, that establishment trumpeted a new era of multicultural transnational technocracy but hasn’t delivered sustained economic growth or low unemployment for nearly four decades. In the U.S., Barack Obama has presided over a feeble recovery while relying on obedient Democrats and a pliant media to jam through his domestic and foreign policy agendas over broad popular objections.
The response to this political highhandedness on both sides of the Atlantic is rage: the rage of people who sense that they aren’t even being paid lip service by a political class that is as indifferent to public opinion as it is unaccountable to the law.
These are the people flocking to the banners of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, Marine Le Pen and Jeremy Corbyn—leaders who, either through the consistency of their views or the toughness of their persona, suggest a kind of incorruptibility. They can’t be bought. They’ll never change. They are authentic and pure. What else do you need to govern a country?
Such are the leaders who are coming to the fore in an era in which the worst ideas of the past—protectionism, punitive taxation, isolationism, opposition to immigration, hostility to finance, hatred of Jews in both its anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist variants—are making a political comeback in ways that defy old ideological categories.
The weakness of the West will be a source of moral comfort and political advantage to its enemies—not only the Iranians and Chinese and Russians and Sunni fanatics, but also domestic ideological entrepreneurs and charismatics peddling repackaged cures for imaginary ills, from income inequality to global warming to the immigration “invasion.” Stopping them is never easy, as anyone who has ever cast doubt on the greatness of El Donaldo and his credulous supporters can tell you. But it’s no less necessary.
The task for everyone opposed to the Jeremy Corbyns of the world isn’t to scoff, but to learn.
Wise words for those who are listening and are in a position to implement them. Is anyone out there?
One influential leftist who seems to have learned a lesson is Nick Cohen, the well-known writer and commentator at places like the Guardian and the Spectator. He wrote a book entitled “What’s Left?” lamenting the decline of the Left. And now he reached the final obvious conclusion, as he wrote in the Spectator “Why I’ve finally given up on the Left“: (emphases are mine):
‘Tory, Tory, Tory. You’re a Tory.’ The level of hatred directed by the Corbyn left at Labour people who have fought Tories all their lives is as menacing as it is ridiculous. If you are a woman, you face misogyny. Kate Godfrey, the centrist Labour candidate in Stafford, told the Times she had received death threats and pornographic hate mail after challenging her local left. If you are a man, you are condemned in language not heard since the fall of Marxist Leninism. ‘This pathetic small-minded jealousy of the anti-democratic bourgeois shows them up for the reactionary neocons they really are,’ a Guardian commenter told its columnist Rafael Behr after he had criticised Corbyn.
I come from a left-wing family, marched against Margaret Thatcher and was one of the first journalists to denounce New Labour’s embrace of corporate capitalism — and I don’t regret any of it. But slowly, too slowly I am ashamed to say, I began to notice that left-wing politics had turned rancid.
In 2007 I tried to make amends, and published What’s Left. If they were true to their professed principles, my book argued, modern leftists would search out secular forces in the Muslim world — Iranian and Arab feminists, say, Kurdish socialists or Muslim liberals struggling against reactionary clerics here in Britain — and embrace them as comrades. Instead, they preferred to excuse half the anti-western theocrats and dictators on the planet. As, in their quiet way, did many in the liberal mainstream. Throughout that period, I never heard the BBC demanding of ‘progressives’ how they could call themselves left-wing when they had not a word of comfort for the Iraqi and Afghan liberals al-Qaeda was slaughtering.
I never imagined that left-wing politics would get as bad as they have become. I assumed that when the criminally irresponsible Blair flew off in his Learjet, the better angels of the left’s nature would re-assert themselves.
What a fool I was.
The position of the Jews is grimmer still. To be blunt, the new leader of the opposition is ‘friends’ with men who want them dead.
George Orwell wrote of the ‘English intellectual [who] would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during “God Save the King” than of stealing from a poor box’. That came to mind on Tuesday when Corbyn declined to sing ‘God Save the Queen’ at the Battle of Britain remembrance service.
I realise now what I should have known years ago. The causes I most care about — secularism, freedom of speech, universal human rights — are not their causes. Whatever they pretend, when the crunch comes, they will always put sectarian unity first, and find reasons to be elsewhere.
So, for what it is worth, this is my resignation letter from the left. I have no idea who I should send it to or if there are forms to fill in. But I do know this: like so many before me, I can claim constructive dismissal.
Here is a video of Nick Cohen describing his political turnaround:
I hope that, like Brett Stephens’ wise words above, Nick Cohen’s lament does not fall on deaf ears and is not just preaching to the choir. For the sake not just of the Jews of Britain, but for Britain as a whole, let’s pray that Corbyn’s tenure doesn’t last long enough to do any lasting damage.