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June 4, 2017 8:43 pm

Alan Dershowitz: Will 1/3 of Brits Vote for a Hard Left Antisemite?

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UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

This article was originally published by Gatestone Institute.

On June 8, British voters will head to the polls. Recent numbers show the gap closing between British Prime Minister Theresa May and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. When Prime Minister May called for a snap election last month – three years early – most assumed she would win easily and increase her parliamentary majority. But Corbyn – who was given odds of 200-1 when he ran for his party’s leadership in 2015 – is doing surprisingly well again. He also happens to lead a party that has been soft on antisemitism, and Corbyn himself has been accused of anti-Jewish bigotry. When facing such criticism, the Labour leader has offered the defense that he is anti-Israel, not anti-Jewish. But Corbyn’s words and deeds demonstrate that he often uses his virulent anti-Zionism as a cover for his soft antisemitism.

Consider a speech Corbyn gave last year where he said that Jews are “no more responsible” for the actions of Israel than Muslims are for the actions of the Islamic State terrorist group. Moreover, Corbyn’s “affinity” for terrorist groups (avowed to the destruction of the nation state of the Jewish people) is also well documented. In 2009 Corbyn said: “it will be my pleasure and my honor to host an event in Parliament where our friends from Hezbollah will be speaking. I also invited friends from Hamas to come and speak as well.” In light of these events, a key former adviser to Corbyn, Harry Fletcher, wrote: “I’d suggest to him [Jeremy] about how he might build bridges with the Jewish community and none of it ever happened.”

Corbyn himself has said that he is not an antisemite but rather opposed to Zionism. Generally speaking, it is easy to say you hate Israel but you don’t hate Jews. Even if this were true – and I am not sure that it is – the company that Corbyn keeps suggests that at best he gives a free pass to bigotry, racism and antisemitism within the ranks of his own party, and at worst, he espouses those same views. Indeed, Corbyn has been known to share speaking platforms and lead rallies with some of the most infamous Jew-haters. He has attended meetings hosted by Paul Eisen –a 9/11 conspiracy theorist and Holocaust denier who wrote a blog titled “My Life as a Holocaust Denier.” Corbyn has also been associated with Sheikh Raed Salah – who was convicted for incitement to violence and racism and has been known to perpetuate traditional blood libels about Jews and said that Jews were warned not to go to the Twin Towers on 9/11 – calling him a “very honored citizen” whose “voice must be heard.” Corbyn was also a paid contributor for Press TV, which is part of Iran’s tightly controlled media apparatus whose production is directly overseen by Iran’s antisemitic Supreme Leader.

One of the biggest criticisms of what has been referred to as the “Corbynization” of British politics has been the mainstreaming of traditional antisemitism. The country’s Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, has also chimed into the conversation, calling the Labour party’s antisemitic problem “severe.” Consider, the bigotry of Gerald Kaufman (now deceased), for example – a Labour veteran and close political associate of Corbyn – who touted conspiracies about Jews and Jewish money throughout his political career. When speaking at a pro-Palestinian event Kaufman said: “Jewish money, Jewish donations to the Conservative Party – as in the general election in May – support from the Jewish Chronicle, all of those things, bias the Conservatives.” While Corbyn condemned these remarks, he refused to yield to widespread demands for disciplinary action against Kaufman.

Let’s be clear: I do not believe that Corbyn’s rise in the polls is because he hates Jews and their nation state, but rather despite his bigotry. His opponent, Theresa May, called for elections and then refused to debate her opponents. She is running a lackluster campaign somewhat reminiscent of Hillary Clinton’s last year. Corbyn for his part, like President Trump, is a populist. Though they represent polar opposites on the political spectrum, they have much in common including their penchant to shoot from the hip, and their unpredictability. Many British voters are unaware of his antisemitic associations. Others know but don’t care. The hard left in Britain, especially among union activists and academics, include many knee jerk opponents of the nation state of the Jewish people and many supporters of academic and cultural boycotts of Israel. Many such supporters favor trade and engagement with such massive human rights offenders as Iran, Cuba, China, Russia, Belarus and Venezuela. Indeed, it is antisemitic to single out only the nation state of the Jewish people – the Middle East’s only democracy and a nation with one of the world’s best records of human rights, the rule of law and concern for enemy civilians — for boycotts.

Corbyn himself has called for boycotts of Israel. He has advocated for an arms embargo citing Israel’s supposed “breach” of the human rights clause of the EU-Israel trade agreement. Corbyn also supports academic boycotts in some instances, and when Israel’s national soccer team was travelling to Cardiff, Wales, for a qualifying game for the European Championship, Corbyn led calls for a boycott only of the soccer team representing the nation state of the Jewish people. (Ironically, Israel only plays in this league as it was expelled from the Asian Football Confederation due to the Arab League’s boycott.) Moreover, Corbyn has been a vocal supporter of the so-called Palestinian right of return stating that the Palestinians’ “right to return home” is “the key” to the solution. This would soon make Arabs the majority within Israel and Jews the ethnic minority, rendering the two-state solution completely obsolete.

Whether antisemitism is the root of the Labour party’s problem or the consequence is not important. Likewise, the distinct role Jeremy Corbyn has played in getting the Labour party to this point is not particularly relevant. The fact is that he has not stemmed the tide of bigotry and anti-Jewish hate within the ranks of his party, but has played a big part in perpetuating it. British voters now have the opportunity to choose where they will go as a nation. Will they opt to move away from stability, rationality and tolerance— and toward simple mindedness, xenophobia and intolerance? I don’t know, but I hope they choose wisely.

Bernie Sanders has already made his choice. He is campaigning for Corbin despite his record on antisemitism. Sanders will have to explain why a Jew is helping to elect a bigot with the views Corbin holds about the Jewish people and their nation state.

Follow Alan Dershowitz on Twitter: @AlanDersh, Facebook: @AlanMDershowitz . 

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  • MorganCourtenay

    Around 13% of Jewish Labour voters are planning to support Corbyn and some Jewish MP’s are willing to sit in his potential government. Inexplicable, given his shambolic handling of the anti-Semitism from his Party, but sadly true.

  • lizwagner2

    “Bernie Sanders has already made his choice. He is campaigning for Corbyn despite his record on antisemitism. Sanders will have to explain why a Jew is helping to elect a bigot with the views Corbyn holds about the Jewish people and their nation state.”

    The sad thing about this is Bernie Sanders will not have to explain why a Jew is helping to elect a bigot with the views Corbyn holds about the Jewish people and their nation state. The reason is that Jews themselves, both, through passive silence and active promotion, have helped make views like Corbyn’s popular. In the upside down world in which we live, many Jews consider it respectable to chime in and repeat the mendacious lies about Israel spread by Jew-haters around the world everyday. In fact, such self-abnegation is effectively demanded of Jews wishing to gain entry into liberal political circles around the world, including, in Israel, and many Jews willingly comply.

    This being the case, to whom will Bernie Sanders have to explain? Many American Jews, along with the rest of the left, treated Sanders like a rock star during his run against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, despite his making some highly inaccurate and offensive–some might say bigoted—statements about Israel. He won’t have to explain himself to those Jews. More and more of them take pride in accusing Israel of “apartheid” and other crimes against humanity, such living unapologetically as Jews. He certainly won’t feel the need to explain it to anyone on the right, whether they be far-right Jew-haters, Israel-loving conservatives or moderates.

    I certainly hope, for the sake of the British, that May hasn’t blown it. And though Mr. Dershowitz’s much-appreciated intel on Bernie Sanders’ overseas activities is secondary to the main focus of his piece, I think those of us who understand America is in danger of losing its immunity to Europe’s super-virulent strain of Jew-hatred should not overlook this. This is bad news for America; especially, if Sanders’ efforts help Corbin to win.

  • henrytobias

    Bernie Sanders is a self-hating Jew. Look at his foreign policy platform and those who drew it up.

  • George Curtis

    I do believe that Bernie Sanders was the only candidate vying for the Democratic or Republican nomination for president that turned down an invitation to address AIPAC. He also publicly made a claim that the Israelis killed 10,000 Palestinians during the last war with Hamas in Gaza. Even the Palestinians only claimed that approximately 2000 were killed. It is difficult to comprehend how Jewish Bernie Sanders can harbor such anti-Semitic attitudes and be willing to blatantly lie with his anti-Israel and anti-Semitic statements and behavior in order to promote his socialist and extremists left-wing the book “anti-Semitism and the Jew” the author, John Paul Sartre talks about how Jews often internalize the anti-Semitic attitudes found in the general population. I think Bernie Sanders is a clear example of a Jew internalizing anti-Semitism.

    • Sara Hill

      You say it is ” difficult to comprehend how Jewish Bernie Sanders can harbor such anti-Semitic attitudes and be willing to blatantly lie with his anti-Israel and anti-Semitic statements and behavior in order to promote his socialist and extremists left-wing the book “anti-Semitism and the Jew” I don’t find it difficult to comprehend at all. He, like Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein in America and Gilad Atzmon and others in Britain, had the “misfortune” to be born Jewish, and they are doing everything they can to make up for this “stigma”.

  • Joseph Feld

    When it comes to its party manifesto Corbyn’s Labour Party is offering free university for all, massive injections of money into the National Health Service and elder care, and early years free nursery care for all, 10,000 more police….. These are very attractive but Corbyn and his team have been slower at explaining how they plan to finance these commitments. Anti-semitism is not really an issue for most voters. 77% of Jews say they will vote Conservative, which further means Corbyn has no need to care about the ‘Jewish vote’.

  • Kwitcherbellyakin

    Okay, Corbyn is an anti-Semite. And London is filled with his friends. Time for British Jews to come home.

  • Lancelot Blackeburne

    Bernie Sanders explain why he, as a Jew, is supporting a raging anti-Semite like Jeremy Corbin?

    I think Bernie Sanders’ loyalties lie with the hard left side of the political spectrum, not with any Jewish identity. With people like Bernie Sanders, politics trumps (no pun intended) all other things.

    Do Jews recognize any acronyms like JINO, for Jewish In Name Only? That would certainly apply to Bernie Sanders and many other leftist JINOs.

    I think I’ll buy some more State of Israel bonds to show my complete disdain for people like Jeremy Corbin and Bernie Sanders.

    • Bernie is far more than a JINO. He is a self hater. Many Jews on the left have substituted their Judaism for Leftism or progressivism or some other kind of ism. Those Jews are certainly not our friends and should be denounced for who they really are. It’s a terrible and dangerous thing when political leaders all over the West like Corbyn, Sanders and far to many others to name here are espousing Antisemitism, court Islam and are destroying our civilization.