The Campaign Against Antisemitism will always be apolitical and non-partisan. However, we also must not fear to call out antisemitism wherever we see it. Jeremy Corbyn hails from the far-left, and whereas far-right antisemitism is anathema to the far-left, Jewish conspiracy myths and Islamist antisemitism are often accommodated.
In the past week we have been approached by the Daily Mail to comment on two separate stories revealing Corbyn’s association with antisemites. We wonder why Corbyn has failed to distance himself from antisemites and in some cases has even praised them. For a prospective Labour Party leader, we would have thought that any proximity to antisemites would be toxic. Left unaddressed, it would surely prove fatal to their candidacy; not so for Jeremy Corbyn, frontrunner to become Leader of the Opposition according to recent polls.
Paul Eisen, a self-professed Holocaust denier, claims close association with Corbyn over several years and even that Corbyn has donated to his work. When confronted by the Daily Mail last week, Corbyn’s spokesman condemned Eisen’s views, but declined to comment on Eisen’s claims that Corbyn has attended “every single” one of his events and donated towards his work.
In February, the reverend Stephen Sizer, was ordered by the Church of England to stop using social media after posting an antisemitic conspiracy myth that Israel planned 9/11. While the Church said the material Sizer posted was “clearly antisemitic”, on Sunday the Mail revealed that Corbyn wrote to the Church defending Sizer, saying that he was being victimised because he “dared to speak out against Zionism”.
In April 2012, Corbyn warmly praised Ra’ed Salah, a prolific antisemite who claims that Israel planned 9/11 and who has, according to the Court of Appeal, even promoted the antisemitic blood libel that Jews bake bread using the blood of non-Jewish children. Yet Corbyn has said “Salah’s is a voice that must be heard” and publicly told Salah: “I look forward to giving you tea on the terrace because you deserve it!”
In July, the Telegraph revealed that Corbyn has accepted thousands of pounds in gifts from organisations closely-related to Hamas. This was particularly concerning following Corbyn’s 2009 speech to a conference at the House of Commons in which he said: “And I’ve also invited friends from Hamas to come and speak as well. Unfortunately the Israelis would not allow them to travel here. The idea that [Hamas] should be labelled as a terrorist organisation by the British government is really a big, big historical mistake and I would invite the government to reconsider its position on this matter and start talking directly to Hamas and Hezbollah.”
In its charter, Hamas openly calls for the genocide of all Jews: “our fight with the Jews is very extensive and very grave, and it requires all the sincere efforts… The hour of judgment shall not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them.” The Hamas charter also rejects any form of negotiation intended to lead to a peace deal: “[Peace] initiatives, the so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem, are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement,” it states. Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah has been quoted by the New York Times saying: “If Jews all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.”
Perhaps more worrying than Corbyn’s association with antisemites is that this appears not to bother his supporters.