Just as bullets from Israel Defence Force soldiers started finding their target in the bodies of non-violent Palestinian protesters in Gaza, the UK press lit up (again) with charges of anti-Semitism in the ranks of the Labour Party. It does not take a very penetrating analysis of the situation to see the link between the two things. Richard Silverstein explores the influence of the UK Israel lobby today. It is, however, nowhere near as potent as the American Israel lobby, in front of which US politicians from both sides of the aisle shake in their boots. – Ed.
Ever since Jeremy Corbyn became a serious contender for Labour Party leader and later when he ran a surprisingly competitive national election campaign, the UK Israel Lobby has been sharpening the knives against him. He is insufficiently pliant to Israeli interests. He is not subservient to the Lobby in the way previous Labour Party leaders have been. In addition, UK Jews are overwhelmingly Tory voters, so the prospect of a genuinely left-wing Party leader has given them the willies. It has motivated the UK Lobby to escalate its efforts.
The accusations of anti-Semitism came right from the beginning, and they haven’t ceased for a second. They come in waves, all orchestrated by the Board of Deputies, the Israeli embassy, Bicom and their ancillary lobbying entities.
When one wave of accusations recedes, another one comes along. This campaign is readily facilitated by the UK press. Of course, the Tory tabloids and broadsheets, like the Sun, Mirror, Mail and Telegraph, offer screaming headlines about the fatal scent of anti-Semitism in the ranks of Labour. Even supposedly liberal papers like the Guardian have lent their pages to the fulsome fusillades.
U.S. publications like the NY Times, not to be outdone, sic their pro Israel columnists on Corbyn’s alleged fatal flaw of Jew-hatred. We even witnessed the spectacle of an attack from resident pro-Israel scribe, Bret Stephens. Bari Weiss can’t be far behind.
Among the latest charges: that several Corbyn insiders belong to a 2,000 member private Facebook group which has published anti-Semitic comments. So get this, several key figures in Corbyn’s circle either joined and were joined (depending on how your permissions are configured, sometimes Facebook Friends can sign you up for a group without your even approving it) were members of a group of 2,000 people among whom there were unspecified members who posted anti-Semitic material. Corbyn’s folks didn’t post these comments. In fact, we don’t even know if any of them posted even a single comment in the group. None of them commented upon, liked or approved of the anti-Semitic posts. So what exactly is the offense? That they didn’t take the offending member out and shoot him? Or that they didn’t denounce the rhetoric? How could they if they didn’t participate in the group? What does it mean that you are listed as a member of the social media group? That you are personally responsible for every word published there? Nonsense.
The latest charge is a real doozy: after Corbyn asked to meet with the UK’s communal leadership, it refused unless he submitted to a series of conditions which were ridiculous and oppressive. Instead, Corbyn chose to spend the Passover seder with a group of far more congenial UK Jews, progressives as well. The members of Jewdas, a left-wing ant-Zionist group which opposes the mandarin Zionist leadership. Well, the Jewish Chronicle and Deputies got wind of this and went to town. They passed it on to the Blairites wing of the Labour Party and before you know it renegade MPs were denouncing Corbyn’s breaking matza with Jewish anti-Semites.
Guess what happened next? The UK Israel Lobby thought better of their shameless posturing and accepted Corbyn’s invitation to meet…with no conditions. Exactly the approach they should’ve adopted from the beginning. So Jeremy Corbyn and Jewdas taught the Lobby derech eretz, an ancient Jewish custom of showing decency to your fellow human being.
What especially irks me is hearing non-Jewish, non-progressive MPs telling Corbyn and the rest of us who are the good Jews and who are the bad. And using a yardstick that has nothing to do with Judaism or Jewishness and everything to do, not just with Israel, but with an ultra-nationalist Likudist vision of Israel. Excuse me, but Moses didn’t come down from Mt. Sinai with tablets on which the Zionist creed was inscribed. He came down with Ten Commandments, which taught us as Jews how to be decent, ethical human beings. Not good Zionists, but good humans. That’s Jewdas’ vision and mine as well. Maybe it’s yours too.
Strangely, though the charges are articulated in a fashion which assumes they pose a self evidently fatal blow to Corbyn, they aren’t. He bounces back as strong as ever. In fact, if anything, these scurrilous attacks ricochet and strike at the ones who launched them. Corbyn soldiers on, gaining support from quarters impervious to the traditional gutter snipe politicking of the tabloid press.