The Duck test implies that a person can identify an unknown subject by observing that subject’s habitual characteristics. If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is …
But what if the duck is a crow† who has convinced himself that he is really a swan?
Many accuse Jeremy Corbyn of antisemitism and he certainly has left a trail of webbed footprints behind him. Yet he doesn’t see himself as a Jew Hater‡. So what is the explanation?
The current scandal with Corbyn and the wider Labour party allows Five Minutes for Israel to dive into the thinking of a worldview where being called antisemitic is defamatory but defaming the state of the Jews is practically the sine qua non for acceptance.
If not an antisemite what are some other reasonable explanations? I firmly believe that before determining conspiracy as an explanation we should we should consider incompetence as an adequate explanation*. We should also consider whether the term antisemitism has been diluted to meaningless.
Check out Corbyn’s direct approach to the Jews in the video below.
Note that he never refers to his own statements and actions/inaction, only to a few bad apples in his party. The last two sentences seem to sum up his philosophy and at least give a partial explanation.
Antisemitism, Islamophobia and far-right racism have no place in our society. That is why anti-racism is at the core of our movement.
In his own mind Corbyn can’t be an antisemite. Antisemitism is just another form of racism confined to the far-right. Far-left (as much as I loathe that term) racism, which is the problem he is supposedly explaining away, doesn’t even enter his consciousness. I don’t know if Corbyn has ever quoted the Zionism is Racism libel but I suspect the idea of a left-wing Zionist would leave him flummoxed.
The Party pointedly did decide to omit the IHRA definition that claiming that Israel’s existence is a “racist endeavour” can be considered antisemitism.
Equating antisemitism with Islamophobia and by implication any other form of racism you might like to add reduces the impact of the charge. The whitewashing (It’s all about Shami) Chakrabarti Report that Corbyn commissioned to supposedly investigate antisemitism in the party took the same tack of lumping all instances together. Ironically she recommended that Labour members should resist the use of Hitler, Nazi and Holocaust metaphors, distortions and comparisons in debates about Israel-Palestine in particular.
Show Me Your Friends, I’ll Tell You Who You Are
Jeremy Corbyn called Hamas and Hezbollah his friends but later claimed he regretted it while giving evidence at the home affairs select committee and during a later press conference. That is, he regretted his choice of words. The meeting, not so much.
We should consider entering new terms as Proxy Jew Hatred or Accessory to Jew Hatred to our vocabulary for those who share platforms with people who don’t bother to relabel their antisemitism as criticism of Israel.
However, speaking for the defence (if that’s what I am doing) Corbyn has a long record for supporting just about every dictator and murderer who labelled himself revolutionary.
- Hugo Chavez (former Venezuelan president): “Thanks Hugo Chavez for showing that the poor matter and wealth can be shared“.
- Irish Republican Army: From 1986 to 1992, Corbyn spoke annually at Sands/Connolly (Bobby and James) commemorations in London to show support for IRA “prisoners of war” and remember the IRA dead.
- Fidel Castro (former Cuban president): “a huge figure of modern history, national independence and 20th-century socialism“
Does he support Hamas/Hezbollah’s antisemitism or does he just ignore it as he does his other favourites?
Jeremy Corbyn celebrated Passover (in St Peter’s de Beauvoir church in Hackney!) with radical as-a-Jew group Jewdas known for its far-left anti-Zionism, scandalising just about every other Jewish group. Jewdas dismisses talk of antisemitism in party as “faux-outrage greased with hypocrisy and opportunism” that is “the work of cynical manipulations by people whose express loyalty is to the Conservative Party and the right wing of the Labour Party” so undoubtedly he felt at home.
“a very clear two-fingered salute [the British version of the finger] at mainstream British Jewry.”
Campaign against Antisemitism
An intriguing question is what was going on in Corbyn’s mind when he decided to accept Jewdas’s (as in Judas?) invitation for a Pessach (Passover) seder. The organisation is an offensive joke. Check out their membership application.
Already facing accusations of antisemitism in his party, did he think attending their mockery of a religious ceremony would reconcile him to the rest of Britain’s Jewish community? Did he think this group was representative of that community? Did he see a group whose opinions, (Israel as “a streaming pile of sewage which needs to be disposed of.”) on Israel came close to his own and that was enough?
Is this just a case of proving he wasn’t antisemitic by finding a tiny, unrepresentative Jewish group and saying, See, there are Jews who agree with me”? Neturei Karta for the far-left? Is he that clever?
Is it possible that a man with ambitions to become Prime Minister has so little sense of irony that he doesn’t realise Jewdas was hardly a serious organisation?
A second attempt to address the wider Jewish community at the Jewish Museum was probably a better idea. It fell through. According to the Independent
“the museum entered talks with Labour having assumed that the organisations had all agreed to attend the event.
However, when museum officials contacted them to discuss it, the groups said they had had no communication with Mr Corbyn’s team and knew nothing about the planned event.”
“Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity”*. Not sure about ‘never’.
Part 2 The anti Zionist defence follows shortly.
- Why does Jeremy Corbyn grasp the oppression of every minority except Jews?, Archbishop Cranmer, 25 August 2015
- Tom Watson defies Jeremy Corbyn and calls for Margaret Hodge and Ian Austin probes to be dropped, Kevin Schofield, Politics Home, 5 August 2018
- ARGUMENT: Voting for Jeremy Corbyn Isn’t Just Dumb. It’s Dangerous, James Kirchick, FP, 7 June 2017
New Labour ICDF- Political Cartoons by Elad Jalapeño Shmueli 2018
† If you didn’t pick up the avian reference.The Corbyn surname may have derived as a nickname for a man with strikingly glossy black hair or for one with a raucous voice, from the Middle English or the Old French “Corbin” Corbun”, raven.
‡ I prefer ‘Jew Hater’ to ‘antisemite’ because it avoids the ridiculous ‘Arabs are also Semites’, claim. By that argument Adolf Hitler was not an antisemite. Please reread I am not an antisemite! Where have all the Jew Haters gone?, one of my earlier efforts. I believe it is still completely relevant.
* Hanlon’s razor