30th March 2018
Jeremy Corbyn speaks for Palestinian rights
In an exclusive interview with Jewish News this week Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, is unequivocal in his condemnation of anti-Semitism, his opposition to all forms of racism and his desire to have a negotiated settlement and peaceful solution to the illegal occupation of Palestinian territory by the Israeli state.
Corbyn was asked how he felt about the demonstration outside the House of Commons last Monday, called to protest against the Labour Party’s handling of anti-Semitism and replied,
“I am not an anti-Semite in any way, never have been, never will be. I’ve opposed racism in any form all my life. It’s the way I was brought up, it’s the way I’ve lived my life. I recognise the hurt that’s felt within the community and that’s why I responded immediately with an invitation to the Jewish Leadership Council and the Board of Deputies to come and meet me.”
The interview went on to press Corbyn about the scale of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party and his long standing position of support for the Palestinian cause. Once again Corbyn was very clear that “processes in our party had to be speeded up and that all of the recommendations of the Chakrabarti report had to be carried out”, going on to stress emphatically that,
“…anti-Semitism is a cancer in our society and it has resurfaced across Europe and Britain in recent years. It has to be challenged at every single stage.”
Corbyn has been a consistent supporter over many years of the rights of the Palestinian people and, in line with the position of the United Nations and many governments around the world, has argued the case for a two-state solution, which both recognises the right of the State of Israel to exist but also acknowledges the rights of the Palestinian people, as agreed under internationally recognised UN resolutions.
Corbyn reiterates this view in the interview stating,
“I’d argue that there has to be a just solution for the whole region. That means that the settlement policy should end, the occupation of the West Bank should end, to have an effective two-state solution. As you know my party’s policy, which Ed Miliband led us on, was for recognition of Palestine alongside the State of Israel, and that was included in our manifesto as well. Indeed that’s what Parliament voted for.”
At every turn in the interview, in which Corbyn is persistently pressed, he rejects any claims that he is anti-Semitic, based on his long standing record as an anti-racist activist; opposes any abuse aimed at activists from either wing of the party for expressing their views; and consistently commits to implementing the recommendations of the Chakrabarti report aimed at rooting out anti-Semitic views in the Labour Party. In short his position could not be clearer.
Nevertheless Jewish News chooses to emblazon its front cover, which features a picture of Corbyn, highlighting the exclusive interview with the banner headline, ‘Not Good Enough’. Clearly nothing Corbyn could say would be good enough for Jewish News which appears to have nailed its colours to the mast of the anti-Corbyn witch-hunt, currently being conducted under the banner of anti-Semitism, by the mainstream press and BBC.
The witch hunt has been called out by amongst others, the Jewish Socialists’ Group, who have made clear their,
“…serious concern over the rise of anti-Semitism especially under extreme right wing governments in central and Eastern Europe, in America under Donald Trump’s Presidency and here in Britain under Theresa May’s premiership.”
The JSG have pointed out that the accusations against Corbyn in particular have come from the unrepresentative Board of Deputies and the self styled Jewish Leadership Council, both dominated by supporters of the Tory Party. Jonathan Arkush, President of the Board of Deputies was one of the first to congratulate Donald Trump on his election and gives unqualified support to Israel’s anti-Palestinian Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
The JSG go on to point out that,
“Until very recently the Jewish Leadership Council was chaired by Sir Mick Davies, who was appointed Tory Party Treasurer in February 2016 and is now Chief Executive of the Conservative Party.”
Less widely reported than the anti-Corbyn protest last Monday was a counter demonstration organised by Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL), which has praised Corbyn’s “consistent commitment to anti-racism” and accused the Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council of playing party politics ahead of the May local elections. The current chair of the Jewish Leadership Council, Jonathan Goldstein, launched a personal attack upon Corbyn when being interviewed on the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme last Monday suggesting that,
“Jeremy Corbyn is now the figurehead for an anti-Semitic political culture, based upon obsessive hatred of Israel, conspiracy theories and fake news.”
JVL have also stressed that the bodies most quoted by the mainstream media are not representative of Jewish opinion stating,
“…we are appalled by the actions and statements of the Board of Deputies. They do not represent us or the great majority of Jews in the party who share Jeremy Corbyn’s vision for social justice and fairness.”
The right wing press, who have historically supported every anti-progressive movement from the blackshirts to the apartheid regime in South Africa, are not going to acknowledge any differentiation in the opinions of the Jewish community, they will stay with those that can be used as a stick to beat Corbyn with.
The BBC however, in spite of its supposed ‘balance’, has responded in the same way and failed to challenge either the veracity or the motivations of those making the allegations of anti-Semitism. Could the BBC be scared to tackle the powerful Tory lobby behind these allegations, in spite of the alleged independence from the government proclaimed in its Charter?
With local elections scheduled in May there is every indication that the Tories are heading for a meltdown. Brexit negotiations are a constant headache for the Tories, exposing significant schisms in their ranks. They have no solutions to the problems facing the majority of people in the country and are increasingly exposed at every turn as the party of the rich.
The Tories cannot argue against the policies advocated by Corbyn and the Labour Party. Their only recourse would appear to be to attack the personal integrity of Corbyn and anyone associated with him. It is a shallow tactic and one which, in spite of the weight of the right wing press and the BBC behind it, will be exposed.