The results of the British Parliamentary elections necessitate an updated assessment of the attitudes of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn toward Jews and Israel. This relatively successful but dangerous politician is promoting Israel-haters and sometimes also antisemites. He has furthermore supported terrorists or refused to condemn them. Corbyn’s behavior may have changed somewhat – but not very much – since he became Labour leader in September 2016.
Conservative Prime Minister Elisabeth May announced a snap parliamentary election on April 18. At the time the polls put the Conservatives twenty one points ahead of Labour. That would have translated into winning several tens of seats more than the majority 331 obtained in the 2015 election. In comparison, in the June 8 elections the Conservatives received 42.4% of the votes while Labour received 40%. While still the largest party, the Conservatives hold only 318 seats. Both parties increased their percentage of the vote at the expense of smaller parties.
It is difficult to overestimate Corbyn’s election performance even if his party remains in opposition. Only a few times since the Second World War has the Labour Party achieved a similar percentage of votes. Corbyn won the support of many young voters. The Conservatives were backed by most leading papers. Only the Daily Mirror and the Guardian supported Labour. One cannot blame the result of this election only on the poor campaign performance of May and her party’s unattractive manifesto.
Those who want to diminish the importance of the positive Corbyn outcome bring forward a variety of arguments. A major one is that the UK’s electoral system is based on constituencies. UK citizens cast votes for a parliamentarian they like and not for the party leader they may dislike.
The voters’ drift toward Corbyn continues. One poll after the election gives Labour a five percent lead. Corbyn is now aiming for a new election, after which he might become the UK’s prime minister.
More specifically analyzing the Jewish aspects of Corbyn’s attitudes: he cannot be categorized as an anti-Semite as defined by the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism adopted by the UK. He can best be described as a legitimizer of terrorists and anti-Semites.
Corbyn remained a supporter of the group Deir Yassin Remembered (DYR) for a number of years and even as the Telegraph wrote “after its organizers were exposed publicly for their extreme anti-Semitic views.” The founder of DYR, Holocaust denier Paul Eisen, claims that Corbyn attended group meetings for fifteen years and contributed money to its cause.
Corbyn’s problematic appointments have continued throughout his leadership. After his election as party leader, he appointed Ken Livingstone, the former Labour mayor of London, to co-chair the Labour defense review. When Livingstone came under heavy criticism for his statements he had to give up this position. He has since been suspended first for a year and then for an additional year. Livingstone however continues to claim that Hitler supported the Zionists.
Corbyn also appointed Seamus Milne as Executive Director of Strategy and Communications, a key position in the party. He did this in spite of the fact that in 2007 this Hamas supporter called the creation of Israel a crime.
Corbyn recently appointed Andrew Murray to run his election campaign. He served as chair of the BDS promoting Stop the War Campaign and also supported Hamas and Hezbollah. Corbyn’s new trade union adviser, Tim Lezard, asked why British taxpayers should pay for security at synagogues. He claimed that Israel’s actions in Gaza were the source of rising anti-Semitism in the UK. Lezard thus held British Jews responsible for actions of a country in which they cannot vote, a typical anti-Semitic position.
Corbyn has supported anti-Israeli terror movements directly and indirectly. Corbyn invited representatives of the terrorist organizations Hezbollah and Hamas to the British parliament, calling them “my friends.” It took many months until he partially retracted this statement. Recently it was revealed that Corbyn was present at a wreath laying ceremony in Tunisia for Atef Bseiso who played a key role in the Palestinian murder of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972. He also attended a joint conference with members of Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine when he visited Tunisia.
In a lengthy article the Daily Mail analyzed Corbyn’s overall policies in a devastating way. One paragraph is indicative: “Yes, Mr. Corbyn has impressed some with his quiet composure under hostile questioning. But he personally has spent a political lifetime courting mass murderers in the Middle East, Ireland and elsewhere in the world, affronting his party and its decent traditional supporters, while voting on 56 occasions against measures aimed at containing the terrorist threat.”
Many in the western world would not like Marine Le Pen to become France’s next president. If her attitudes are compared with Corbyn one finds that she has never taken the type of extreme positions that are common for Corbyn. One may conclude that the possible arrival of Corbyn as British Prime Minister after the next elections would be a much bigger problem than a Le Pen presidency, not only for Jews and Israel but also for the Western world.