True to his promise earlier this year, following several instances of antisemitism in his party, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn commissioned an inquiry into antisemitism in the party, chaired by Shami Chakrabarti. Sadly the investigation descended from farce into outrage and thence onward to the otuer realms of surrealism. (All emphases in excerpts below are mine).
First, to the inquiry itself. Douglas Murray at Gatestone informs us that the Labour Party investigated itself and – surprise – found itself innocent:
On Thursday of last week Chakrabarti produced her findings. At an event in London organised by the Labour party, she announced that the Labour party was not in fact overrun by anti-Semitism “or other forms of racism,” but conceded that there was an “occasionally toxic atmosphere.” She also added that there was “too much clear evidence… of ignorant attitudes.”
The man she was helping to vindicate, Jeremy Corbyn, then took to the stage and called for an end to Hitler and Nazi metaphors, and an end to comparisons between different human rights atrocities. He went on to say, “Racism is racism is racism. There is no hierarchy, no acceptable form of it.”
In the hands of anyone else that might have been an end of it, but this is the modern Labour party of Jeremy Corbyn, and in the modern Labour party of Jeremy Corbyn no opportunity for a public relations catastrophe is ever missed.
And here we come to the zinger:
And so it was that at the launch of an inquiry into anti-Semitism a set of anti-Semitic incidents occurred.
I kid you not. I told you it was surreal!
First, there were the words of the leader himself. In his remarks attempting to curb anti-Semitism in the Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn said,
“Our Jewish friends are no more responsible for the actions of Israel or the Netanyahu government than our Muslim friends are for those various self-styled Islamic states or organisations.”
This none-too subtle linkage between Israel and ISIS was promptly seized upon by commentators and religious leaders. Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis condemned the comments as “offensive,” and stated that rather than rebuilding trust with Britain’s Jewish community, Corbyn had in fact caused even “greater concern.”
Former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks called Corbyn’s comments “demonisation of the highest order, an outrage and unacceptable.” He went on to say that the comments showed “how deep the sickness is in parts of the left of British politics today.”
And the farce continued:
Meanwhile, in the audience of the event, a Labour MP who is Jewish — Ruth Smeeth — found herself the victim of anti-Semitic slurs from one of Jeremy Corbyn’s hard-left grassroots supporters. This individual insisted that Ms Smeeth was working in collusion with the “right-wing media” — an anti-Semitic trope of precisely the kind at which the Chakrabarti report had been meant to look. Corbyn failed to intervene, so the Jewish MP walked out of the event.
Smeeth subsequently joined the majority of Labour MPs who have already — for a whole multitude of reasons — called on Corbyn to resign. By failing to intervene in an anti-Semitic incident going on right in front of him, Corbyn had, she said in a statement, shown a “catastrophic failure of leadership,” adding:
“It is beyond belief that someone could come to the launch of a report on anti-Semitism in the Labour Party and espouse such vile conspiracy theories about Jewish people, which were ironically highlighted as such in Ms Chakrabarti’s report, while the leader of my own party stood by and did absolutely nothing.”
You can read Ruth Smeeth’s entire statement here.
Harry’s Place pointed out that Jeremy Corbyn’s obscene comparison of Israel with ISIS fulfills the US Government’s definition of antisemitism:
In 2010 Hannah Rosenthal, the US State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, explained how the department defines antisemitism.
Our State Department uses Natan Sharansky’s framework for identifying when someone or a government crosses the line – when Israel is demonized, when Israel is held to different standards than the rest of the countries, and when Israel is delegitimized. These cases are not disagreements with a policy of Israel, this is anti-Semitism.
So when Jeremy Corbyn (shown here auditioning for the role of a deer caught in headlights) responded to the release of a report on antisemitism in the Labour party by essentially comparing Israel to the Islamic State, it was hard to see how that did not fit the US government’s definition.
In an extremely hard-hitting article in the Telegraph, Stephen Pollard wrote that after this revolting statement we have to stop pretending that Jeremy Corbyn is an amiable buffoon. The reality is much more nasty:
This morning’s meeting was one of the most extraordinarily appalling events in the history of the Labour Party. It not only shamed Jeremy Corbyn; it shamed anyone who supports his leadership.
Think about what happened for a moment. At an event to launch a report into Labour’s attitude to anti-Semitism, the leader of the Labour Party – in a prepared script – thought the most appropriate thing he could say was: “Our Jewish friends are no more responsible for the actions of Israel or the Netanyahu Government than our Muslim friends are for those of various self-styled Islamic states or organisations.”
One might say that the irony that he was launching a report condemning inappropriate comparisons with Israel was lost on him. But, as I will explain, it wasn’t lost at all; it was deliberate. Some have tried to argue that his words do not compare Israel with Isil. You have to wonder if they can read. His point is that both Israel and Isil are extremists, terrorists, call them what you will. And while Muslims are decent because they do not support Isil’s actions, so too Jews are decent when they do not support Israel. And, of course, only when they do not support Israel.
You could describe this as cloth-eared, or even stupid – and since he became Labour leader, the narrative has usually been that Mr Corbyn isn’t up to the job, doesn’t get it, isn’t really to be taken seriously. But that is to give him credit he does not deserve.
The truth is far more unsavoury. It’s clear from his speech that for Jeremy Corbyn, anti-Semitism is something to be weaponised. This was not some off-the-cuff remark, some slip. These were his – or probably Seumas Milne’s – considered words. At a meeting on anti-Semitism, he thought the most appropriate thing that he could say was to compare Israel with Isil. This is hard-Left dog whistle politics. With “anti-Zionism” a defining feature of the hard-Left, this is using anti-Semitism as a tool.
Let’s stop this ludicrous idea that Jeremy Corbyn is some amiable buffoon who’s simply out of his depth. As this morning showed, Jeremy Corbyn is one the nastiest and most cynical politicians ever to operate on the national stage.
Pollard quotes a tweet from Zionist Union MK Tzippi Livni, someone with whom I have almost never agreed. But she nails it with the following:
All this would have been mildly comical (since it places Jeremy Corbyn in an almost untenable position) as well as offensive if it weren’t for continuing displays of antisemitism in Britain. This past weekend the annual “Al Quds” demonstration took place in London, complete with Hezbollah banners and flags. But finally, the British Jewish community have had enough and they organized a successful counter-demonstration.
The leader of a prominent British pro-Israel group spoke out against the flying of terrorist flags on the streets of London during an anti-Israel rally over the weekend, telling The Algemeiner on Monday that such open displays of support for terror groups should not be tolerated.
“Hezbollah flags were once against being flown seemingly without fear of consequence,” said Simon Cobbs, co-chair of Israel advocacy group Sussex Friends of Israel (SFI), whose organization was one of three main sponsors of Sunday’s counter-demonstration against the annual anti-Israel “Al Quds Day” march.
Cobbs told The Algemeiner that numerous sources who infiltrated the march said rally organizers sent children — some wrapped in Hezbollah flags — and members of the marginal Haredi anti-Zionist group Neturei Karta to the head of the procession, seemingly to provoke pro-Israel counter-demonstrators. “Highly offensive” anti-Israel placards — such as “Dismantling of Zionist State = End Of Bloodshed” — were waved by protesters, he said.
At one point, a “tense standoff, with both groups no more than a few feet apart,” took place, Cobbs said, adding that “police did a fantastic job in ensuring the safety of all involved.”
According to police estimates, “approximately 500-600 people gathered in solidarity with Israel from communities across the UK, including Jews, Christians and Muslims,” Cobbs said. “We took to the road outside the US Embassy to say ‘No to terror – Yes to peace.’”
While the counter-demonstration had “many aims, all of which were not only achieved but mostly surpassed,” two great victories emerged, according to Cobbs.
“It was our intention to highlight the flying of a proscribed terrorist group’s flag in London. Tory MP Matthew Offord, who spoke at the rally, has again pledged to raise the matter in parliament and work on ensuring that the loophole in the law that allows it is closely scrutinized,” Cobbs said.
The second major victory, Cobbs said, is that “the day also proved that a small but growing number of people here in the UK are becoming more willing to show their support for Israel despite troublesome times.”
Here is a video clip of the demo:
One of those brave souls who infiltrated the enemy’s lines was activist and blogger David Collier, who reported on his experience in his article “Walking with the Hezbollah in London”:
Upon arriving I was handed a flag calling for the boycott of Israel, and slowly the crowd swelled. A coach arrived, then another. The antizionist Neturei Karta were placed at the front of the demonstration. They were kept that way. A line of protecting stewards were placed behind them and if anyone else tried to nudge to the front during the march, they were pulled away. Jews had to be on the front line, however unrepresentative they may be.
Hezbollah T-shirts, Nasrallah T-shirts, Khomeini T-shirts. These people marched proudly through the streets of London. Someone had a placard that read ‘ We are all Hezbollah’. And I marched with them. Support for radical Islamic extremists. Maybe 350 people in total, maybe slightly more. The demographic was clearly one sided. Over 80% of them looked Middle Eastern themselves. Arabic was the language most spoken.
Such extremism. Such hatred. There will be no peace, there will be no progress, until this venom is extracted from the conflict. The irony that on this day in North London, left wing Zionists had gathered at a Haaretz conference to discuss the issue of peace was not lost on me. With all the will in the world, theirs is a bubble that at the moment, simply does not exist.
You cannot negotiate with this. Nor will peace move forward whilst this mob is allowed to spread its poison. This is blind hatred. Self- chosen ignorance, bias, and yes, not a little antisemitism. Those few in the crowd that were not Islamic radicals fell into two distinct groups. Those on the very far left, and those on the very far right. An absurd political marriage enabled only by a mutual hatred of Jews.
Kol hakavod to Sussex Friends of Israel, the Israel Advocacy Movement and the Zionist Federation for sponsoring and organizing the counter-demonstration, and of course to all the locals who participated.
Despite the success of the counter-demo, David Collier’s concluding words are pertinent both to the Hezbollah demonstration and also to the issue of antisemitism altogether:
Allowing this type of march isn’t a strength of our freedoms, it is a weakness. Yesterday, we emboldened radical extremism. We let it stand proud. We created an opportunity for people to meet and bring Hezbollah to the heart of London.
Until such blatant antisemitism is banned altogether by the British Government, and until organizations like the Labour Party excises antisemitism from its midst completely, up to and including the resignation of Jeremy Corbyn and his aides and advisors, all our efforts will be like whistling in the wind.