Below a suitably sinister picture of Jeremy Corbyn and a very thin text in the Times, John Carlin (right) refers to Corbyn’s refusal to accept an invitation to attend an official dinner with Israel’s prime minister this week.
The position taken by the Labour leader is honest and consistent. Years ago he was arrested for demonstrating against Israel’s support for apartheid in South Africa.
Below: The West Bank Jewish settlement of Beitar Ilit, seen through a barbed wire fence. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to approve some hundreds of new housing units in West Bank settlements before slowing settlement construction, two of his aides said Friday, despite Washington’s public demand for a total settlement freeze.
“Since 1967 Israel has established over a hundred settlements in the West Bank. In addition, there are dozens more settlement outposts that are not officially recognized by the authorities. These settlements were established on vast tracts of land taken from the Palestinians, in breach of international humanitarian law. The very existence of the settlements violates Palestinian human rights, including the right to property, equality, a decent standard of living and freedom of movement”: B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.
Jeremy Corbyn has consistently called for an end to the oppression of the Palestinian people, supporting a two-state solution. Had he agreed to dine with a perpetrator, one can imagine the outcry and the charges brought against him.
B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories is one of many Israeli Palestinian organisations working for justice and peace.
Nelson Mandela, to whom Carlin (his biographer) is said to have paid an eloquent, affectionate tribute (here), was loyal to Palestinians and troubled by Israel’s support of the South African apartheid, which he worked to end.
On a 1999 trip to Israel Mandela said:
“Israel should withdraw from all the areas which it won from the Arabs in 1967, and in particular Israel should withdraw completely from the Golan Heights, from south Lebanon and from the West Bank”.
(Read on here).
Antisemitism charges: commercial and political vested interests attempt to counter Corbyn-Labour’s growing popularity
Strange bedfellows, the Murdoch press and Labour Friends of Israel, fear they have much to lose if they cannot reduce the growing Corbyn-led Labour Party lead in the YouGov polls (below) and the ever-growing support for the Labour leader, overtaking David Cameron this month.
Two days after John Wight’s widely appreciated Herald Tribune article was republished, Danny Cohen, the former director of BBC television, (left) mounted a weak and insubstantial attack on Jeremy Corbyn in the Times, asking Jews not to support him.
Described as a prominent figure in London’s Jewish community, Danny Cohen asserted that there was a growing problem of antisemitism in the Labour party which would make it impossible for Jewish people to support it under the present leadership: “I am deeply troubled that our main opposition party is having such frequent problems with anti-Semitism”.
Cohen’s reference can only be to a few low-profile individuals of the kind each political party will have, whose influence is minimal compared with the Labour Friends of Israel, whom he completely failed to mention.
LFI members are drawn from the former Blair establishment – many of the party’s most senior politicians, officials, and donors – who appear to believe that Israel is ‘a beacon of democracy in a region beset by extremism and barbarism’ – rather than a selective democracy in a repressive colonising regime.
UK and USA governments and most of their institutions and corporate masters see a huge commercial advantage in unconditional support for Israel regardless of its repeated violations of international law.
As Wight puts it at some length: “It is the fact that Israel’s brutal subjugation of an entire people for the crime of daring to exist is allowed to go on year after year, with the support and connivance of the political mainstream in the UK and throughout the West, which leaves us in no doubt that those who have extended themselves in exposing and rooting out antisemitism are complicit in that subjugation”.
He regards charges of anti-semitism as a response to the growing support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign and its success in highlighting the injustice that describes the day to day reality for the Palestinians and in breaking through the political cordon sanitaire around Israel that had long prevented any serious challenge to its right to exist as an apartheid state.
When Jeremy Corbyn emerged as the frontrunner in the Labour leadership election last year than he was subjected to an unprecedented media assault for speaking at public meetings attended by representatives of Hamas and Hezbollah while still a backbench MP.
Though Corbyn was usually not directly labelled an antisemite, Wight saw that the inference was clear enough.
London’s Jewish community judges for itself – opposite.
Members of a Jewish family, current and former constituents of Jeremy Corbyn, wrote to the Guardian to say:
“The accusations of antisemitism are, of course, political manipulations. Influential sections of the Jewish community, maybe guided by their Israeli contacts, are frightened that a notable critic of Israel’s policies and actions might attain a position of prominence in British politics”.
They drew attention to the deliberate conflation of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism and the ‘hysterical pressure to desist’ on anyone who wants to talk to Hamas and Hezbollah, as being “so destructive to the prospects of peace”.
To date, vested interest prevails: sadly, that which destroys peace is vitally important to the prosperity of prospective party donors: the multinational arms industry and its host of ancillary suppliers.
In a recent Newsnight programme, as some speakers pointed out, having a leader with certain ministers ‘facing in different directions’ is not a viable game plan – and Jeremy Corbyn was urged to ‘establish a coherence’. Ahead of the media today, the Labour Party website gives the full list of the current shadow cabinet ministers.
That deeply disappointing, unsupportive deputy leader Tom Watson, misguidedly led tributes to the departing Michael Dugher (left), who previously worked in public relations as government lobbyist for American multinational Electronic Data Systems (EDS), one of the government’s largest IT contractors. He was one of several lobbyists who were elected to parliament in 2010.
His other media claim to fame is as Vice-Chair of Labour Friends of Israel, a title still used in today’s Jewish News article though he is listed on the LFI website as a supporter. Dugher has condemned academic and economic sanctions such as the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign which sees Israel as an apartheid state (putting it mildly) and alerts the public to multinational companies complicit in its activities.
Abysmally poor judgment?
In March, as vice-chair, Dugher gave a keynote speech at the ‘We Believe in Israel’ conference, where he said, “Each time I visit Israel, my admiration for that great country grows.”
Extremely short memory?
The far from radical BBC News reported that 2,100 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip and that the number of civilians killed during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge offensive raised international concern and condemnation. Admiration????
Corbyn’s strength comes from his wider support in the party and Dugher, with other careerist Blairite MPs, rounded on the establishment of Momentum – new grassroots volunteer-led groups – following Jeremy Corbyn’s victory in the Labour leadership contest.
Progress supporters and ‘their acolytes in the commentariat’ (Woods) compared Momentum with the now renamed Militant. Caroline Flint MP acidly warned that the new group could “destroy” (right-wing) Labour and Michael Dugher said it was “crazy” of supporters to establish it.
Truth is the casualty here; first-hand experience to date is of four-square solid citizens: Birmingham Momentum who care for the 99%. Above: a cross-section of the 120+, eminently sane and constructive. Check its Facebook page.
Conspiracy theory? Yesterday the writer was told that when Indian rulers wanted to destroy their opposition, they ‘planted’ people within the movement. No need to do that here. Though in public meetings (notably Question Time’) applause is all for the new Labour movement, careerist hopefuls, including Watson, Flint, Dugher, Ben Bradshaw, Jess Philips, John Mann, Simon Danczuk, Mary Creagh, Mike Gapes and Tony McNulty continue to be enormously helpful to the Conservative government and media.
As Steve Beauchampé, a wise observer, said by email: “I agree with Danny Finkelstein on Newsnight (that Corbyn should) lead, dispatch his opponents in the Shadow Cabinet where necessary, don’t apologise, tough it out and set out a firm platform of policies”.