Anti-Semitism and Corbyn’s warped worldview go hand-in-hand

A recent YouGov poll conducted for The Times reveals more Labour members (65 percent) believe Israel is a force for bad in the world than Iran (59 percent). This ought to be a shocking statistic for a party supposedly committed to ethical and progressive principles.

Iran arms the terrorist organisation Hezbollah, supports the Syrian fascist dictator Assad, hangs gay people, withholds freedom of religion to Baha’is and denies the Holocaust. The Houthis, Iran’s proxy organisation in Yemen, openly flies a flag modelled on the moto of revolutionary Iran and bears the inscription “God is great. Death to America, Death to Israel, a Curse on the Jews. Victory to Islam”.

Labour-type democratic socialist parties are not free to organise in Iran and independent trade unions are non-existent. Given that the leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, and those around him have spent their entire political careers opposing Israel and at best equivocating on Iran, the results of the poll should hardly come as a surprise.

The worldview which allows dictatorships and repressive theocracies such as Iran to be favoured over democracies such as Israel is important in light of the antisemitism crisis which has embroiled the party. Indeed, the same poll revealed that nearly eight out of 10 Labour members believe that accusations of anti-Semitism are being exaggerated to damage Corbyn and stifle legitimate criticism of Israel.


This pernicious anti-Western ideology where countries whose slogan is ‘death to America’ are feted over a democracy can only be sustained by the propagation of conspiracy theories and where there are conspiracy theories, there are Jews – providing a scapegoat for all the world’s ills.

Prejudice against any minority is always based on perceptions of inferiority but prejudice against Jews is based on perceptions of superiority, including ugly assertions that Jews control the world. This was what traditional right-wing anti-Semitism looked like and while that has not disappeared, we are witnessing a new edition of age-old antisemitism on the far left, including that Jews have malign interests and work at the behest of the Israeli government, Mossad, or Donald Trump. In the warped world of identity politics – a purview of the left – how can the powerful be victimised?

When Corbyn spoke at the United Nations’ Geneva headquarters last year, he berated the UK government for championing some human rights issues but remaining silent on others. Silence, he claimed, made them complicit in these violations. On this he is not wrong, just hypocritical.

Take for example his silence when Iranians took to the streets at the end of last year to demonstrate over government corruption. The protesters were met with force – in some cases, lethal force – by the authorities. Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, belatedly gave Labour’s position saying the party was unable to support the demonstrators because it was unclear who had “the white hats”. Similarly, when Syrians were killed by a chemical weapons attack, a Labour ‘spokesperson’ equivocated and obfuscated.

Contrast this with the unequivocal condemnation of the recent violence at the Gaza-Israel border. Corbyn tweeted: “The killing and wounding by Israeli forces of civilians demonstrating for Palestinian rights in Gaza is appalling. The UK Government must make its voice heard on the urgency of a genuine settlement for peace and justice.” Given that many of those killed were Hamas members – a terrorist organisation with whom Corbyn has met and called his “friends” and “brothers” – of course he has gifted them the white hats.

Hostility towards Israel and the whitewashing of the far worse crimes of her enemies is par for the course, but there is no moral equivalency between dictatorship and democracy. Only conspiracy theories can invert that reality.

To the far left, Israel is the modern day Jew, a western backed liberal democracy which is painted as a pariah imperialist state, subjugating the blighted Palestinians, and which is also victim to bizarre conspiracy theories. When Corbyn appeared on Press TV, the Iranian state-owned broadcaster in 2012 (after it had its UK licence revoked by Ofcom), he linked a jihadi massacre of 16 Egyptian policeman to Israel – “you have to look at the big picture: in whose interests is it to destabilise the new government in Egypt” he asked.

That he “suspects the hand of Israel” shows how his hatred of the Jewish state can be expressed through conspiracy theories.

This puts into context the row over the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism. How can Corbyn endorse a definition of anti-Semitism which would render many of his fellow travellers anti-Semites? This is the anti-Semitism the far left shares with the Iranian regime.

Indeed, the acid test of a ‘good Jew’ is what they think about Israel’s actions, and more ominously, Israel’s right to exist. For Marxists, Jewish emancipation required the shunning of all that is specifically Jewish. Today that means shunning Israel; something the majority of Jews cannot and will not do, hence why this conflict between the Jewish community and the current Labour Party is so intractable. The leadership of the Labour Party cannot accept that the existence of a state of Israel is not a racist endeavour any more than the Jewish community can accept that it is.

The irony is that Corbyn’s brand of politics asserts that people can be unconsciously prejudiced because the system is rigged against the underdog. Corbyn’s handling of the Jewish community’s concerns of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party flies in the face of how he characterises racism for any other group, precisely because of where he places Jews on the hierarchy of identity politics.

Those who claim the anti-Semitism within the party is an aberration tainting a fundamentally moral worldview are wrong. The anti-Semitism is a symptom of the malaise of this worldview.

The two go hand-in-hand, which is why this shouldn’t be a fight for just the Jews, but for liberals, democrats, and patriots alike.

About the Author
Claudia is the Jewish Leadership Council's Co-Chief Executive
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