Tuesday, 15 June 2010

I criticise Israel, therefore I am not an anti-Semite

English MP Jeremy Corbyn has objected to an opinion piece by Leon de Winter in The Wall Street Journal. De Winter’s brief article, Anti-Semitism Is Acceptable Again, asked why people and organizations that present themselves as “progressive” team up with reactionary Muslims. The Free Gaza group, said de Winter, is just such a Leftist-Islamist alliance. Israel withdrew from Gaza five years ago, therefore Gaza is already free but that isn't enough for Hamas; it wants a Jew-free Israel too. The Gaza flotilla, he said, was “the perfect execution of a masterful piece of Islamist theatre”. It is acceptable once more to be an anti-Semite.

Corbyn, a political progressive who is not adverse to “teaming up” with radical Muslims, responded by saying that although “race hatred and discrimination of any description is wrong” de Winter should not “conflate criticisms of Israel with hatred of the Jewish people; they are NOT the same.”

I’m not saying Jeremy Corbyn is an anti-Semite but the way Corbyn and other critics of Israel respond to the charge that some criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic almost amounts to saying that being a critic of Israel is proof positive you are not an anti-Semite. Is there, one wonders, any form of condemnation of Israel that Corbyn and other progressives would acknowledge as clearly anti-semitic? For example, do false allegations of war crimes, the use of the term "apartheid" to describe the state of Israel and “Nazis” to describe Israel’s leaders and the denial of the right of the Jewish people to self-determination not qualify as anti-Semitism.

A few weeks ago, in an unprovoked attack, North Korea sunk a South Korean ship killing 47 people. Where was the world's outrage? In Pakistan, hundreds die in terrorist attacks every week and the Pakistani military kill hundreds of insurgents every month. Where are the expression of indignation from the rest of the world? The Turks killed hundreds of Kurds every year but where was the anger of the progressives? These, and many more conflicts around the world, cause far more deaths and injury than the justified Israeli assault on the Mavi Marmara last week. Yet, according to world opinion, Israel is a pariah state, the world’s leading terrorist organisation and the scum of the earth.

Jeremy Corbyn has shared a platforms with Abou JahJah, a Hezbollah supporter and Holocaust denier who founded the Arab European League, which posted racist cartoons aimed at Jews, including a particularly crude and obnoxious scribble of Ann Frank in bed with Adolph Hitler. Corbyn also spoke alongside Hezbollah MP, Hussein el Haj Hassan who objected to Lebanese children being taught about the diary of Ann Frank.

If Jeremy Corbyn really does believe that “race hatred and discrimination of any description is wrong” why did he join these Islamic radicals to protest against Israel? Perhaps in Corbyn’s book even Holocaust denial and crude cartoons that target Jews don’t yet qualify as race hatred.

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