Was Jeremy Corbyn just being Jeremy Corbyn?
We are not sure why anyone was surprised by the U.K. Labour leader’s comparison of Israel/Netanyahu with ISIS. We are more surprised that no one challenged his laboured apology and explanation.
Jeremy Corbyn’s comparison of the State of Israel to ISIS is demonisation of the highest order, an outrage and unacceptable. That this occurred at the launch of the report into the Labour Party’s recent troubles with antisemitism shows how deep the sickness is in parts of the left of British politics today. Israel is a democratic state with an independent judiciary, a free press and a diverse population of many cultures, religions and creeds. ISIS is a terrorist entity whose barbarities have been condemned by all those who value our common humanity. In the current political climate, when hate crimes are rising and political rhetoric is increasingly divisive, this is all the more shocking.
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, 30 June 2016
At the very least Corbyn showed a remarkable tin ear but if we could enter into his mind I expect he was surprised by the outcry. The comparison is so commonplace I doubt he even realised how offensive it is.
Last year the Iranians staged a Daesh† cartoon contest with many examples of the Israel controls/supports/creates Daesh meme. To be fair there were as many accusing America of the same with further examples of Saudi Arabia, Britain and even Germany. Some of the examples were recycled for the Holocaust cartoon competition. How efficient.
However even without the Iranians who have their own axe to grind, the comparison has a logic to it. Israel is constantly, obsessively and it should be unnecessary to say completely falsely being accused of an extraordinarily wide range of crimes in the United Nations, European Union and the pages of much of the media. Only this week Palestinian Authority Mahmud Abbas revised the medieval libel that Jews poison the wells and still received a standing ovation in a speech to the European Parliament.
Read the Guardian or the Independent; watch the BBC or hang out in left wing circles as Corbyn does and the idea that Israel is not just evil but the greatest evil on the planet becomes common wisdom. Israel can do no right. Many of Corbyn’s friends, in and out of the Labour party, certainly think so.
Still no one has addressed the Labour leaders explanation of what he really meant by what he said.
When later asked if he was comparing Israel to a terrorist group, Mr Corbyn said: “No, no of course I’m not. The point in the report is that you shouldn’t say to somebody just because they’re Jewish, you must have an opinion on Israel. Any more than you say to anyone who is a Muslim you must have an opinion on any vile action that’s been taken by misquoting the good name of Islam. I just ask people to be respectful and inclusive in their debate.” Reported by the BBC
It is true that many Muslims oppose Daesh for a wide range of reasons. Possibly even most Muslims.
However Muslim support or lack of support for Daesh is nothing as blanket as Jewish support for Israel. Overwhelmingly Jews throughout the world and certainly in the United Kingdom identify with Israel. According to a 2015 survey 90 percent of British Jews support Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, 84 percent feel a “deep sense of pride” in its achievements in art, science and technology and 93 percent say Israel plays a part in their Jewish identity (73 percent say an “important” or “central” part). Jewish opponents of Israel receive publicity far beyond their actual numbers or influence.
The Corbyn rationale seems to suggest that good Jews are those who stand against Israel which in practical terms demonises most of Britain’s Jews. In what way is this an improvement on his original statement?
- The Shami Chakrabarti Inquiry, Shami Chakrabarti, David Feldman & Janet Royall, U.K. Labour Party, 30 June 2016
- Report of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism, All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism, February 2015
- After comparing Israel to Isil, we’ve got to stop pretending that Jeremy Corbyn is an amiable buffoon, Stephen Pollard, The Telegraph, 30 June 2016
† Daesh, Islamic State in Syria abbreviated to ISIS, Islamic State in the Levant abbreviated to ISIL and (the) Islamic State or IS are all the same organisation. We wrote about the labeling problem exactly one year ago in DAESH it all.
About the five-in-a-star. Occasionally Five Minutes for Israel awards a red clown nose to someone whose anti-Israel action warrants particular ridicule. In recognition for Jeremy Corbin’s BREXIT failure we have awarded him twelve stars.