He’s the forerunner to be the next leader of the opposition.* He’s the new leader of the opposition. He is gathering popularity at an unprecedented speed, especially amongst young people. He is attempting to take the Labour party back to its radically left-wing, pre-Blair ideals. He also has ties to holocaust deniers, and calls terrorist organisations “friends”. However he furiously denies being anti-Semitic and claims that those links are expired. So is it all politicians’ talk or is he genuinely not anti-Semitic?
During a talk with two of the Corbyn campaign’s senior volunteers, I raised the issue. I did it in two stages, which I shall use as two separate, contrasting pieces of evidence.
My first question began,
“Setting aside for the moment the politics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict..,”
I asked how he would prevent himself from being used as a figurehead. How he would publicly and actively show that he was against anti-Semitism, to prevent rising trends in verbal and physical attacks. How he would ensure that people would not validate anti-Semitism using the opposition leader or future Prime Minister.
zero tolerance policy on anti-Semitism, just like all other forms of discrimination
The answer was satisfactory. They referred to his general plans for Labour – opening communication lines across levels and increasing political engagement – and applied them to the issue. They said he would work with community leaders and decide with them what needs to be done. He would appear publicly at events and show support for the Jewish community whilst also adopting a zero tolerance policy on anti-Semitism just like all other forms of discrimination.
They also said that his comments on Hamas and Hezbollah had been taken badly and he would clear them up. He apparently doesn’t agree with them or support them, but believes that as well as taking a hard line against terrorism, it is important to “get them round the table” and try to peacefully solve the conflict.
This seems to indicate that he is not anti-Semitic, but could be politician’s talk. I’m rating the evidence quite low down, because they could hardly come out and say “we don’t actually give a damn about anti-Semitism”. But, it prompted my next question…
Evidence value: 3/10
My second question was much more direct and to the point.
“Does he [Jeremy Corbyn] want to get ISIS ‘round the table’? And if not, what is the difference?”
They interjected with a “no” so quickly, I had to repeat the second half of the question. Although, I’m not sure which answer I wanted more: a “yes” would prove that he is simply crazy and incapable of running the country. (Suffice to say I’m a more right wing person). Or the “no” that I received – which was almost certainly going to prove anti-Semitism.
If there was a valid reason for wanting to get Hamas and Hezbollah round the table but not ISIS, then this would not be anti-Semitism. However if there was none and the organisations are all equal, then it is.
“Hamas is a democratically elected body whilst ISIS are a group of… bandits”
The campaigners said that there is one simple reason. “Hamas is a democratically elected body whilst ISIS are a group of… bandits”. He expanded, saying that Hamas is popular and represents the people whilst ISIS forces their will on people.
Unfortunately for them and Mr. Corbyn, this answer is invalid. Firstly, Hezbollah is not a democratically elected body, is very unpopular even amongst the Arab nations and cannot claim to represent anyone.
Secondly, the statement regarding Hamas is also untrue. Whilst the elections shortly after the disengagement may have left Hamas in power, it is not democratic and the elections were invalid. Firstly, Hamas is not accountable to anyone. They ousted the Fatah opposition in a minor civil war and have not held another election since the first.
It’s hard to vote when… there’s a soldier with a pistol next to you
The elections that did take place were about as fair as the plebiscite in Austria before WW2, when the 90% of the people voted in favour of Anschluss. It helps that Hitler sent his troops in to “maintain order” – it’s hard to vote when the ballot is not secret and there’s a soldier with a pistol next to you.
It should also be noted that Hamas force there will upon others just like ISIS. They both execute gays, Christians, their enemies and civilians. They both indoctrinate children with radical Islamic views. If you’re getting one round a table, there is no reason not to get the other.
Unless you’re inviting one as a friend, because you share an anti-Semitic agenda.
This came from his volunteer campaign leaders so isn’t quite as strong as I’d like, but it is a pretty clear cut piece of evidence indicating anti-Semitism. A confession in a signed affidavit would be the only evidence to get a full rating though, so this is very significant!
Evidence value: 8/10
To conclude, is it likely that Mr. Corbyn holds anti-Semitic sentiments? Yes. Does this apply to his supporters and all those who vote for him? Not by a long shot. He’s running a very idealistic campaign based on welfare and “traditional Labour values” which appeal to many people. He’s not the same as many other politicians and Labour hasn’t had a Prime Minister like him since before Thatcher’s era. Anti-Semitism isn’t a prominent issue for most people in that sense. However, someone who is truly observant and wants to make the right decision in who to support would see and understand that this is not the person due to serious indicators of anti-Semitism.
Many Israel-supporters think that it is a good thing that he is the new leader, because he is so radical no-one will vote for him and we will have another conservative government between 2020 and 2015.
However, I’d like to highlight the popularity he has gained in such a short period of time. It’s crazy. Unbelievable actually. More and more people who voted SNP or Green are switching back to Labour for him. But he’s also tackling political apathy for his own good. For example, his campaigners will phone up someone who didn’t vote in the last election, or voted for whom their family voted for. They’ll call someone uninterested in politics who really has no idea what is going on in the country.
Then they will talk about the new star, Jeremy Corbyn. He’s not the same as other politicians, in navy suits with Oxbridge education. He didn’t go to university at all. He wanted his son to go to the local comprehensive, which was listed as a “failing” school. He’s a leader in anti-austerity and is fighting for equality. So these people, who know no better, will register at the next election with one name in mind: Jeremy Corbyn.
Will he be the next Prime Minister? What does his success mean for the Labour party and for the UK? What does it mean for British Jewry and for Israel? No one can be sure. But we’re all going to find out!
*The results came out on Saturday. I wrote this on Thursday and published after Shabbat. As always, things have changed and continue to do so.