Jeremy Corbyn: his little Jewish problem
More on Jeremy Corbyn and the Jews is a rambling column from Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. The headline comes in the form of an order:
Fling mud if you must, but don’t call Jeremy Corbyn an anti-Semite
And the teaser:
Some of the people the left-wing hopeful has been closest to are conscientious and ethical British Jews
What about the lazy and amoral Jews? Is Corbyn being over picky in selecting his Jews?
Is Jeremy Corbyn the enemy of Israel and British Jews? That is what the The Jewish Chronicle, some MPs and various sections of the media would have us believe. It is an accusation that is both absurd and menacing. The right, Blairites and hard Zionists have formed the most unholy of alliances to slay the reputation of the next likely leader of the Labour Party.
The Jewish Chronicle has not labelled Corbyn a racist. What it said was:
…although there is no direct evidence that he has an issue himself with Jews, there is overwhelming evidence of his association with, support for — and even in one case, alleged funding of — Holocaust deniers, terrorists and some outright antisemites.
Alan Johnson MP has also highlighted a few of Corbyn’s associates.
What evidence have his detractors produced to “prove” that he is anti-Semitic?
No, the JC has not proven anything. It asked questions:
The JC rarely claims to speak for anyone other than ourselves. We are just a newspaper. But in this rare instance we are certain that we speak for the vast majority of British Jews in expressing deep foreboding at the prospect of Mr Corbyn’s election as Labour leader… If Mr Corbyn is not to be regarded from the day of his election as an enemy of Britain’s Jewish community, he has a number of questions which he must answer in full and immediately. The JC asked him earlier this week to respond. No response has been forthcoming.
1. Did you donate, as alleged by its founder, to Deir Yassin Remembered (DYR), a group that publishes open antisemitism, run by Holocaust denier Paul Eisen — an organisation so extreme that even the Palestine Solidarity Campaign refuses to associate with it?
4. Why did you write to the Church of England authorities to defend Rev Stephen Sizer, a vicar banned from social media because of his habit of posting anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, telling them that Rev Sizer was “under attack” because he had “dared to speak out over Zionism”?
5. Why do you associate with Hamas and Hezbollah and refer to them as your “friends”?
7. Why did you describe Raead Salah, a man convicted of the blood libel, as an ‘honoured citizen’?
No “proof” has been offered. It’s not a witch-hunt. But questions have been asked. Words do matter. Yasmin Alibhai-Brown should know that. When she commented on a LibDem peer she noted:
Baroness Jenny Tonge is savaged by Zionists and her own party for saying that nation “is not going to be there forever in its present form”.
What Tonge actually said was:
“Beware Israel. Israel is not going to be there for ever in its present form. One day, the United States of America will get sick of giving £70bn a year to Israel to support what I call America’s aircraft carrier in the Middle East – that is Israel. One day, the American people are going to say to the Israel lobby in the USA: enough is enough… Israel will lose support and then they will reap what they have sown.”
(Other words from Tonge produce a context: “The pro-Israeli lobby has got its grips on the western world, its financial grips. I think they’ve probably got a grip on our party.”)
As Howard Jacobson puts it:
Magnanimity is by definition unilateral, but it takes two for it to be more than a suicidal gesture. And the question has to be asked whether a Jewish state, however magnanimous and conciliatory, will ever be accepted in the Middle East.
So much for the words. Brown adds:
That he has appeared on Press TV, the Iranian-funded station? Well, until late 2009, the Telegraph journalist Andrew Gilligan presented a fortnightly programme on that channel. Is Gilligan therefore also a Jew-hater? Of course not. Next: Corbyn shared a platform with Carlos Latuff, the Brazilian-Arab cartoonist who condemned Israel’s oppressive policies in Palestine.
The Simon Wiesenthal Centre has declared Latuff anti-Semitic but Eddy Portnoy, writing in the Jewish daily Forward, claims he is a “furious” critic of the state of Israel, not an anti-Semite. So no consensus there.
Who knew that not all Jews agreed on everything? What we don’t get to know is what Yasmin Alibhai-Brown thinks of the cartoons?
As for sharing spaces: many of us speak at conferences where some speakers turn out to have nasty views about various ethnic and religious groups. That is the complex and argumentative world we live in. To talk to those we violently disagree with is surely an obligation.
The Guardian’s Ian Black accuses Latuff of “drawing, without inhibition, on judeophobic stereotypes in the service of the anti-globalisation movement.”
“Some of the people Corbyn has been closest to are conscientious and ethical British Jews. The late Mike Marqusee, a Marxist, New York secular Jew who migrated to the UK, was his friend. So, too, is Ken Loach, a liberal British Jew and fierce defender of Palestinian rights.”
Ken Loach is Jewish?!
At a meeting she chaired in 2012, in which the ex-BBC journalist Tim Llewlynn claimed that “Zionists are scattered at strategic points throughout British business”, Alibhai-Brown told the audience that Professor Hugh Blaschko had complained to her that “Israel will bring the worst out in us Jewish people.”
It’s a shame that Alibhai-Brown attaches so much respect to the likes of Marqusee, Loach and Blaschko by dint of their Jewishness. Is she really saying that Jews supportive of Israel, the vast majority, are unethical? That’s the sad implication from someone who should be concerned with racial harmony considering her forced flight from her homeland of Uganda.
And no Jew has a problem with Loach for being “a fierce defender of Palestinian rights”. The problem Jews have with Loach is that, just like Jeremy Corbyn, he seems to want the only Jewish state finished, destroyed, dead. Most reasonable people don’t see that as a “conscientious and ethical” position.
As for Corbyn, Forward writes:
Jeremy Corbyn, was unable to respond to questions from the Forward in time for this article. Previously, Corbyn has said that he has “no recollection” of donating to Deir Yassin Remembered and that Eisen’s “position on the Holocaust is wrong and reprehensible.” As for referring to Hamas and Hezbollah as ‘friends’ and Salah as a ‘very honored citizen,’ this was “diplomatic language in the context of dialogue, not an endorsement of a particular set of views.”
Such are the facts.