Such is the appetite of many in the right-leaning press, along with many more in the Tory Party who cannot believe their luck, and even some within Labour whose motives remain unclear, to root out the Jeremy Corbyn anti-Semitism “Gotcha” they have convinced themselves is out there, that they have all got rather a long way ahead of themselves.
This has culminated in many papers finding themselves on the wrong end of a complaint to alleged press regulator IPSO from the Labour leadership, followed by a story which is already unravelling - the Mail’s attempt to conflate Judaism and Zionism.
This is what the Mail had to say. “Jeremy Corbyn accused British 'Zionists' of having 'no sense of English irony' despite having 'lived in Britain all of their lives', in comments that have been slammed by Jewish groups as anti-Semitic … The remarks were made in 2013, when Corbyn was giving a speech alongside prominent British extremists, at a London conference promoted by the propaganda website of terror group Hamas”.
And the reaction? “[Stephen] Pollard added that he believed the Labour leader 'used the word ‘Zionist’ obviously to mean “Jews" … Jonathan Sacerdoti, who was a founding trustee of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, and who is now an anti-racism campaigner, said: 'The idea that British Jews somehow haven't absorbed British values is outrageous’”. The assumption is that “Zionists” means “Jews”.
Except it didn’t, although at least the Mail is honest as to its objective: “The explosive revelations will increase the pressure on Corbyn to resign as he struggles to contain the anti-Semitism crisis engulfing his party”. The idea is to get rid of Jezza.
As for the meeting on which the Mail has reported, albeit five years after the fact, what the paper has missed out is that Jezza was commenting on reaction to a speech by the then Palestinian ambassador (his name is given in the article, but his status, strangely, is not). A group present at the meeting had sat through the speech, but had berated the ambassador afterwards. They were a pro-Israel group.
It was this group which Corbyn had described as “Zionist”, not on any religious or ethnic basis, but because of their fervent support for Israel. So while some commentators who might be thought to know better are claiming he was using “Zionist” as a direct equivalent for “Jew”, he was not. It is not a difficult point to grasp.
Moreover, as Michael Rosen points out, “Zionism is a political idea. It was dreamed up by Christians as much as Jews. Some of the first serious critics of Zionism were leading Victorian and Edwardian Jews who were well established here. There are also some major anti-Semitic Zionists eg Chtistian Zionists”. A political idea is not an ethnicity.
Rosen also muses “What interests me is that yes, sure pro-Zionists attack anti-Zionists but why do British pro-Zionists keep schtum about these anti-Semitic Christian Zionists? Why aren’t they appalled by them?”. But that is not the idea, which I suspect he knows.
The idea is not to understand Zionism. The idea is to use yet more circular logic to pretend Corbyn is a racist and thus get rid of him. Good of the Mail to own up at last.
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