British Jews Jolted by Election of Terrorist Sympathizer, Israel Critic as UK’s New Labour Party Leader
Saturday’s election of far-Left candidate Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the British Labour Party — succeeding Ed Miliband — has U.K. Jews worried about the repercussions for their community and their country’s relationship with Israel.
It is not merely Corbyn’s sympathy for “father of communism” Karl Marx that has put a majority of the country’s estimated 290,000 Jews on edge. According to a Jewish Chronicle poll conducted during the election campaign, more than 80 percent of Jews said they were concerned about Corbyn’s anti-Israel positions and affiliations with antisemites.
With ties to Holocaust deniers and terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah – whom he referred to as “friends” – Corbyn has been alienating and angering the Jewish establishment, which has traditionally voted Labour. A recent interview with Iran’s Press TV, during which Corbyn called the assassination of Osama bin Laden a “tragedy,” only served to strengthen this ill ease.
Still, Jewish groups have been relatively quiet since Corbyn’s landslide victory, which emerged just before the beginning of the high holiday of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.
The Jewish Leadership Council — an umbrella organization representing more than 30 community groups, among them synagogues, charities, regional councils and the Board of Deputies of British Jews – released the following statement to the press in the immediate aftermath of the vote-tally that ushered Corbyn into his new and important role.
The Jewish Leadership Council will, as we always have, find ways of working with Her Majesty’s Opposition on matters relevant to us. Over the course of the leadership campaign, we had a number of concerns regarding some of Mr Corbyn’s past connections, and his stances on policy areas of great significance to the Jewish community. It is important that the legitimate concerns of the community are addressed.
We look forward to meeting with Mr Corbyn at the first available opportunity to discuss our concerns, but also ways in which the Labour Party and the Jewish community can continue to work together in a spirit of cooperation and understanding. We hope that the Labour movement remains a welcoming environment for members of the Jewish community, many of whom have lifelong commitments to it.
The exact opposite sentiment was expressed by Jewish Chronicle Editor Stephen Pollard in an op-ed in today’s Daily Mail Online. In a scathing attack, Pollard pulls no punches when it comes to his criticism of and warning against the man he says is “barely fit to be an MP,” let alone the head of the Labour Party.
Corbyn, Pollard says, “doesn’t just hate America, Nato and the West. He appears to hate Britain itself. Every one of his foreign policy positions involves supporting our enemies and attacking our friends.”
Citing Corbyn’s opposition to Prime Minister David Cameron’s authorizing the drone strike that killed British ISIS terrorist Reyaad Khan, Pollard writes, “To Corbyn, everything Britain and the West does is wrong, which leads to the barmy conclusion that any enemy of Britain and the West must, at the very least, have a point.”
Nor, asserts Pollard, is it “just terrorist groups who benefit from [Corbyn’s] warped world view. Most of us think the collapse of the Soviet Union was one of the greatest events in the modern world. Not Corbyn. In his view, Poland should never have been allowed to join Nato because it was a deliberate provocation of Russia.
“When his welcoming language towards Hamas and Hezbollah was exposed, he said he was simply being polite and it was important to speak to people of all political stripes. But you will struggle to find him introducing representatives of the Israeli government as ‘friends’. Because he hasn’t. Ever.
“The point is that in the Corbyn world view, any enemy of the West is worthy of support. Any ally is opposed. So he was happy to invite Raed Salah, a 9/11 conspiracy theorist with a conviction for spreading the blood libel (that Jews drink the blood of gentile children), to take tea with him at the Commons.”
Pollard concludes: “Some things are beyond parody. And one of them is now leading the Labour Party.”
Corbyn reportedly has said he intends to appoint a Jewish-affairs liaison to communicate with local communities, but this has not been confirmed.
The first foreign leader to welcome Corbyn’s victory was Argentinean President Cristina Kirchner, who said of the late president of Venezuela — an anti-Western, antisemitic backer of terrorist organizations — “Men as Chávez don’t die; they sow.”
Kirchner and Corbyn see eye-to-eye on the issue of the Falkland Islands: both want to undo the sovereignty of the islanders gained by Britain in the 1982 Falklands War, launched by Argentina during Margaret Thatcher’s tenure as U.K. prime minister.