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Sunday 11 September 2016

Corbyn’s Israel Problem

Having been on the receiving end of much adverse comment for pointing out that the Labour Party lost a previously safe council seat in Sheffield not long after Jeremy Corbyn had addressed a rally of thousands of supporters in the city, I was wary of returning to the less than General Election winning level of his popularity, or the equally less than totally competent level of his leadership, but today needs must.
Labour, and especially Corbyn, have faced accusations of anti-Semitism almost from the moment he was elected as party leader. Yes, I know much of the criticism is without substance, that Jezza is on good terms with Jewish groups in his own constituency and elsewhere, and that the party has acted swiftly - while still demonstrating due process - over accusations of anti-Semitic behaviour among its membership. That is not disputed.

The problem is one of impression: another in the category of “It looks bad”. The hosting of those representing, or close to, groups like Hezbollah and Hamas. The dreadful timing of announcing Shami Chakrabarti’s nomination for a peerage. The suspension of Labour donor Michael Foster (although Foster comparing parts of the Labour Party to Nazi Brownshirts was as deserving of suspension as any).

These acts either look bad, or in the case of Foster, are easily made to look bad by a hostile press. But then, along came an ideal opportunity to dispel all the claims of anti-Semitism and show support for both a Palestinian state - and Israel. Isaac Herzog, leader of the Israeli Labour Party, invited Corbyn to visit his country, and more specifically, the Holocaust memorial at Yad Vashem. So what did Corbyn do?

He took several weeks to reply. And then turned it down.

I know, I know, the excuses are already being readied, I’m once more going to be shouted down as a Blairite shill, a Murdoch collaborator, there will be more of “I used to like your stuff BUT”, and calls of “Turncoat”. All are awaited. And all will make no difference.

The Guardian’s report - and remember, Corbyn fans, you will get no more favourable coverage than in that paper - tells “Labour sources confirmed he had said existing commitments made it impossible to go and he would send deputy leader Tom Watson or general secretary Iain McNicol in November”. And to that I say baloney.

Jeremy Corbyn could, and should, have cleared his diary so that he could go. At once he and his team would have the ideal counter to the hostile press. The hostility would not cease - hell will freeze over first - but the corrosive and constant suggestion of anti-Semitism would have been shown to be the falsehood that we know it to be.

Instead, those hostile to Corbyn’s leadership, along with their press pals, will have another field day. The poll numbers will get worse. The likelihood of Labour gaining power will recede yet further into the distance. And all that will be heard is that it’s someone else’s fault, that he’s sticking to his principles, everyone not in agreement has something wrong with them, and, look, there are lots of people going to his rallies.

This is another seriously bad move by Jeremy Corbyn. But nobody is listening.


Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more with this Tim. A 2 - day visit and this entire line of attack goes away. Unfortunately, whatever his own views, he can't risk alienating the large numbers of anti - Israel (to put it politely) who now exist throughout the membership.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Tim.
I think Corbyn's problem is that he refuses to do gesture politics. He knows he is not a bigot, and he doesn't feel the need to prove it. But gesture politics is important if you are party leader. You have to capture the headlines and get your message across. And as you say, this would have been an excellent way to give the lie to all the accusations of anti-semitism.

Nibs said...

Not sure I agree that a 2-day visit would put this issue to rest: quite apart from anything else, our fearlessly fair and balanced press would be searching for any fluffed remark, imagined snub etc etc.
Also, why should ANY leader of any opposition party have to take time out to go to Israel and kow-tow to this whole thing of a hierarchy of suffering which of course must "excuse" 60 years of ethnic cleansing ?
A PM might go as part of a visit to the country, but why must everyone else jump through hoops ?

Anonymous said...

The whole point is to make Corbyn look bad, regardless of what he actually does or says. The accusations of anti-Semitism won't go away until he does - one doesn't have to be pro- or anti-Corbyn to work that out.

Stephen said...

Maybe he should go because he was specifically invited Nibs.
Your use of the term kow-tow makes my think you dismiss the significance of the event Corbyn was invited to.

Nibs said...

Quite right Anon.
Foster does his "stormtrooper" article in the Mail under the heading "Jewish Donor" but hey, it's the Left who do tropes etc.
The bottom line is that the likes of Foster. Kalms, Garrard, Levy etc are there to ensure our main political parties are pro-Israel, end of story.
Corbs won't kow-tow ? Then Corbs must GO !!
12 months of anti-semitism smears and people still tiptoe round this issue.

Nibs said...

Stephen, as far as one can tell, there is no specific event.
It's a rite of passage for any politician visiting Israel. As though they wouldn't already know the history.
Significance ? There were a lot of significant events in the 20th century, take your pick.

rob said...

Perhaps the proposed visit coincided with a diary entry which thought Corbyn was going to go to North Korea to discuss nuclear disarmament with Kin Jong-un?
Would certainly enhance his proactive leadership skills reputation if he could pull off a result there. No?

Concerned of Weybridge said...

Labour has been able to depend on a lot of urban muslim votes over the years. For a variety of reasons, a lot of muslims are antipathetic to Israel. For a variety of reasons, Jewishness and Israel are conflated. Look at the names of a high proportion of the Labour party individuals involved in the various 'antisemitic' tweets, remarks etc in the last 2 years.Labour doesn't have 'an antisemitism problem' but it does have a lot of muslim supporters who don't necessarily distinguish carefully enough between a state's domestic and foreign policy and members of a religious/'racial' minority.

Ceiliog said...

Regarding your call of "baloney", do you have access to Corbyn's diary for November?
I would have thought it a matter of diplomatic courtesy when inviting a political leader to another country to ask the invitee to supply convenient dates rather than tell them when to visit.

Anonymous said...

"...you will get no more favourable coverage than in that paper..."

Oh the missed irony in that line......

But crack on Tim. You do a first class job of consolidating Corbyn's support, even growing it.

I couldn't care less if you're a New Labour shill or not. I don't know. Nor do I much care.

What I DO know is that hundreds of thousands have joined the Labour Party and will almost certainly give him an overwhelming vote of support. He may or may not lose the next general election - after all, millions protested Blair's Wars and it failed stop his mass murders. Anymore than it forced him and his spiv apologists to stop destroying everything the Labour Party once stood for.

The point is, Corbyn marks a line where enough people have finally actually said Enough Is Enough. Conscience is not dead. Yet. Though at the present rate of public relations manufactured bullshit it's a looming possibility. You need only behold the motley crew, the detritus of New Labour - gobshites like Mann, McTernan and Bomber Benn, failures to a man and woman - spitting hatred at him.

The sadness for you and your type is that you are quite incapable of seeing that you are merely More Of The Same Old Shit. All for mere immediate expediency in a thoroughly corrupt, literally bankrupt system.

The tragedy for the nation is that much more of The Same Old Shit will finally tip it over into an abyss of far right reactionaryism, the type of disgusting muck continued and intensified by the Blair gang. God knows we're almost over the edge as it is.

What a pity. It might have been so different.

Dave Eyre said...

Small correction to your opening sentence. "the Labour Party lost a previously safe council seat in Sheffield not long after Jeremy Corbyn had addressed a rally of thousands of supporters in the city"

"Labour lost a seat in Sheffield to a Lib Dem who had won the seat in the past despite fielding an Anti-Corbyn candidate" would be much closer to the truth.

LiamKav said...

What is so ironic in saying that there isn't a paper that will give Corbyn more favourable coverage than the Guardian?

Anonymous said...

We've never seen a single politician be targeted as much as Jez.

What's the real reason for the persistent all out attacks?

Never mind,he has support of Guido. Or so he gives that impression.

LiamKav said...

Damnit, I wanted to get in before the dramatic wannabe Picard speech about how Corbyn principles are shining a new light on the darkness that the evil of mass-murderer Tony Blair had engulfed our nation in and that that though it may take a thousand years, people will be united by straight talking, honest politics.

Mark Edwards said...

You mean like Kinnock was the "First Kinnock in a thousand years to go to university"?

Yeah, right. He did a bang up job....at losing....before he went off to an EU unelected appointment because - his words - "I've been a good boy."

Yeah, that'll be it.

Ceiliog said...

@Mark Edwards. Yours is a sentiment that is often repeated in Wales. As if the only proper man's job is a mile underground hacking coal out with his bare todger.
It explains why the vote in Wales was to leave the EU and why many traditionally Labour in Gower didn't come out for the woman Labour candidate at the last General Election. Good old Gower constituency, Labour for 120 years and now represented by a Tory parasite whose only talents are turning text-to-speech on the floor of the House of Commons and brown-nosing Theresa May.

Anonymous said...

The point you miss Tim is that 'the hostile press' will never be any different.

It will always be hostile to anybody diametrically opposed to the poison they pump out. Always has been, always will be. Currently the same people are trying to recreate the Cold War. Trying to 'win' them over is a total waste of time. You can no more do that than change the history of Nazism. Do you REALLY believe they wouldn't hesitate to invent another 'Zinoviev letter' if they got desperate? What do you think their treatment of the Hillsborough Disaster and Orgreave was, an 'accident'?

Far better to build support among enough working class people to tip the balance. It'll take a long time after long years of betrayal. But as 'austerity' continues (though you can bet any day now some Tory mouthpiece will appear to say 'It's over,' while continuing the same) and worsens the obvious will become apparent to even the most blinkered. Even the curtain twitching lower middle classes might cotton on as they realise their burglar alarm won't save them from legalised corruption. Certainly a no-mark like Owen Smith won't do it, the Tories never.

The Labour Party only built up through years of struggle, criminalisation and even transportation and execution. But it was done once and it will be done again despite contemptible betrayal from the usual right wing sources. As 1945 showed, when sufficient people care they take action. At such times all the propaganda in the world fails. Even Hitler failed to silence all opposition.

For policies to matter they have to be built on actual conditions, not on vapid Blair-Brown spin and public relations. That is what the establishment is terrified of: Genuine democracy, not the pale, decayed and impotent version we currently suffer.

Change will come in spite of the present system, not because of it. Hopefully it will be as profound as 1945. But it's worth remembering it took two wicked world wars, imperialism and fascism to hasten it.

Concerned of Weybridge said...

Noble of you to be so long-sighted, Anon. Victory in 2093 it is then. see you there!

LiamKav said...

@Concerned Assuming we live through the imperialism, fascism and next two world wars, don't forget!

PaulW said...

Corbyn is on a hiding to nothing where the accusations of anti-semitism are concerned. Doesn't go - he's a bad guy. Does go - he's only doing it because of the accusations.

Anonymous said...

So, Tim......tell us who YOU think would make a capable leader from the current New Labour dwindling faction.

Go on.

Anonymous said...

Cat got your tongue, Tim?

That's not like you.

Anonymous said...

More information on the New Labour right wing faction:

Anonymous said...

Now let’s see which candidate Tim might prefer.

Hilary “Bomber” Benn?...No, can’t be him. Nobody sane supports bombing bound to kill innocent civilians after it bursts into millions of bits of shrapnel that can’t be “surgically guided.”

Tom “Nukes” Watson?...Not him either. Nuclear bombs are, er, even worse.

John “Boot Boy” Mann?...Nope. Every time he opens his mouth he looks and sounds like Nottinghamshire’s version of Kelvin MacFilth.

Owen “Drugs Lobbyist” Smith?...Nah. Tim’s already said No. Nobody who is a true social democrat can possibly support a pharma company front man.

Stephen “Windbag Junior” Kinnock?...Excuse me? One year in Parliament, and a chip off the old right wing “Baron” and “Loser” block certainly won’t cut it.

Andy “Biding his time” Burnham?...No. He’s ducking out, hoping he can do it in later years. Anyway, he’s already been roundly trounced in one contest.

Liz “Corner Shop” Kendall?...No, not her either. Not even the Blair-Brown right wing project can sell somebody of a mere six years in Parliament. Anyway, she’s already been roundly trounced in one contest.

Yvette “No-Mark” Cooper?...Are you kidding? Anyway, she’s already been roundly trounced in one contest.

Harriet “Tory” Harman?...Never. Too much mass murder New Labour baggage. Shared a platform with the Bullingdon Pig’s Head Boy. And she ran away from the contest knowing she wouldn’t get a sniff.

Sort of narrows the field, that. But who to?

Come on, Tim. Don’t be shy. Be constructive.

Anonymous said...

Then there's always Anna "Where's The Press?" Eagle.

Oh, hang on......even her constituency officers said she's been hypocritical on the issue. And she got her election arse kicked too.

Anybody got any other suggestions......SERIOUS suggestions?

Anonymous said...

Well, what about David "Trilateral Commission" Milliband?

No, he won't do either. Already shunted out by the members and now a sell out to the bankers, arm dealers and crooks at the TC.

It's looking bleak for New Labour and its apologists.