With Covid19 sweeping the country, and death rates rising sharply, the departure of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader this weekend won’t make the front page news. But it could easily have been very different. Corbyn’s programme - of renationalising the railways and the utilities, of making good the years of underinvestment in our public services (including the NHS), and getting rid of zero-hours contracts, would by any objective assessment have benefited the vast majority of the British public.
In the end though, his background in 'Stop the War' activism and advocacy for Palestinian rights meant he was a marked man. Corbyn and his supporters have blamed the ’right-wing’ or ‘corporate’ media’ for his demise. But that’s too broad-brush. The brutal, unavoidable, ’politically incorrect’ truth has to be stated however unpalatable or shocking some may find it. What really did for Corbyn were ‘Friends of Israel’ in his own party, and outside of it.
Corbyn was relentlessly traduced as an ‘antisemite’ yet tragically the lifelong anti-racist, who counted many left-wing Jews as his closest friends, never fought back, and so the smear campaign intensified. A fraudulent narrative which said that not only that Corbyn was an ’antisemite’ but that the Labour Party, under his leadership was ‘infested’ with 'anti-Semites’ was allowed to develop.
The ’Friends of Israel’ who pushed this narrative, whether they were Jewish, or non-Jewish, were never properly challenged. Corbyn watched on as his old friends and allies were picked off one by one. Ken Livingstone- who wrote the guide book on fighting racism in the 1980s- was targeted simply for stating a historical truth (albeit clumsily) about the Haavara Agreement. A black man, Marc Wadsworth, and a black woman, Jackie Walker were lynched. Jews who supported Corbyn themselves became victims of the witch-hunt. Chris Williamson, the MP for Derby North, was suspended after he had actually referred to anti-Semitism as a ‘scourge’. That’s how ludicrous the whole thing was.
Corbyn’s reluctance to fight back against the vicious onslaught proved fatal. Every time Labour was improving in the polls, the ‘anti-Semitism’ smears resurfaced. Probably no newspaper did more to promote the narrative than the Jewish Chronicle, with its appallingly arrogant editor Stephen Pollard acting like a puffed-up 17th century Witchfinder General. Stories published in the paper- which more accurately should be described as the ‘Zionist Chronicle’, on account of its strongly pro-Israel line, were picked up by other outlets.
The failure of Corbyn to take any action only emboldened the paper still further.
If only Corbyn had shown the courage of Audrey White, the plucky Labour activist from Liverpool who took the Jewish Chronicle to court in relation to it libelling her over 'anti-Semitism‘’.
The paper was forced to print an apology - saying that it had published ‘allegations’ about Mrs White which were ‘untrue’- and agreed to pay the plaintiff a sum of damages plus her costs. In December the UK’s Press regulator ruled that the Jewish Chronicle’s four articles about White had been ‘significantly misleading’.
It’s interesting to note that just about the only time in his leadership that Corbyn did threaten legal action- against a Tory MP who tweeted that he had ‘sold British secrets to communist spies‘, he got a positive result. Corbyn received an apology and a ‘substantial‘ donation to charity. No one made the same claim ever again. So why didn’t he take the same approach against those libelling him on ‘anti-Semitism’?
By this time you’re probably saying ‘ok, I agree the ‘Friends of Israel’ were important, but didn’t Corbyn dig his own grave by U-turning on Brexit?’. Well, that was undoubtedly disastrous, but who was it who exerted the pressure on him to pursue such an electorally suicidal course of action? No one did more to undermine Corbyn than his serially disloyal Deputy Tom Watson, seen here singing ‘Am Yisrael Chai’ at a Labour Friends of Israel event.
Watson was one of the key figures pushing for Labour to change its line on Brexit. In May 2019 he said that Labour must support a second referendum of face losing the next election. It did support a second referendum, and guess what- it lost.
Another advocate for a second vote was Emily Thornberry who fawned in front of the Israeli Ambassador at a 2017 Labour Friends of Israel dinner.
And of course, the most famous supporter of Labour shifting its line on Brexit, was former Prime Minister Tony Blair, probably the most pro-Israel PM Britain had ever had up to that time.
You don’t even have to be a regular critic of Israel to be targeted by its ’Friends’. All you have to do is to speak out against Middle Eastern military interventions. That’s why I’ve been attacked too (I hardly write about Israel). I worked in the Jewish community in Hungary in the 1990s. I taught at the Anna Frank Grammar School and what is now the Budapest University of Jewish Studies, the oldest existing institution rabbinical seminary in the world.
Some of my dearest friends were or are Jewish.
But I did oppose the Iraq War, the bombing of Libya and western backing for ‘rebels’ in Syria, who Israel has supported, so I became a target.
The power of the ‘Friends of Israel’ can be seen that very few are brave enough to criticise their actions. We see a lot of articles nowadays about ‘free speech’ being under threat yet the lobby group which has done more to restrict free speech in Britain than anyone else is never mentioned in these pieces, showing how successful the campaign has been.
The ‘Friends of Israel’ have also been at the forefront of the campaigns to de-legitimise Russian media lawfully operating in the west- even calling for Russian channels to be taken off air, as Iran‘s Press TV was. Why? Because of Russia’s support for Syria and the way Russian media has reported the Syrian conflict from a non-neo-con viewpoint. The great irony is that whereas pro-Israel interference in UK and western politics is all too real, we’ve been encouraged by ‘Friends of Israel’ to obsess about phantom Russian intervention. No one pushes Russophobia like the ‘Friends’ do. But that's deemed acceptable racism by the Establishment.
Bashing Russia will get you far, writing about the Israel lobby- or even mentioning its existence- could lead to career death, or at least career stagnation.
Anyone who crosses the ‘Friends’- and some ‘Friends’ in particular, is in for a very hard time. You will be ‘crossed’ literally. I’m referring to the extraordinarily prolific Andrew Philip Cross Wikipedia editing operation, (which also uses the pseudonym Nom de A to subvert round its UK politics ban), and which Wikipedia’s head honcho Jimmy Wales seems to approve of.
Cross, as detailed in this BBC World Service programme here, has used the medium of Wikipedia to persecute and paint in the worst light possible a wide variety of public figures from politicians to pop stars, who all have one thing in common. They’ve opposed Middle Eastern regime-change wars which Israel supported. At the same time, he’s also jealously protected the pages of those who have advocated for these wars. Why a 57-year-old working-class man in Chesterfield- who it seems has no family connections to Israel, should feel that he has to devote his entire life (365 days a year) to promoting the country’s geopolitical interests on Wikipedia is a mystery which still needs to be solved. Cross’s father has confirmed his son has Asperger’s which could account for the peculiar obsessiveness, but the stylometric analysis also indicates that we could be talking here about a shared account and people with Asperger’s are susceptible to be influenced by others. A high publicity class-court action by Cross’s many victims would inevitably provide some answers. Interestingly, the first mainstream media coverage of the Cross affair, which portrayed him most sympathetically, as the victim of a ‘witch-hunt’, was in a leading Israeli newspaper.
In their documentary series ‘The Lobby’, al-Jazeera recorded an Israeli Embassy official secretly talking of a ‘take-down’ of UK politicians deemed to be antagonistic to Israeli interests- and a ‘hitlist’.
Corbyn called for an inquiry but didn’t follow it up. But the ‘hitlist’ and ‘takedown’ has claimed more than just one man. In Britain, it’s claimed an entire movement.
In a parallel universe Jeremy Corbyn might be British Prime Minister now. Can anyone honestly say he would have handled Covid19 crisis in a worse way than Boris Johnson and the Conservatives have? Do we honestly think he would not have protected NHS workers and the public better?
The destruction of Corbyn could end up costing the country many thousands of lives.
After tomorrow, there‘s going to be a purge of Corbyn supporters in Labour, under the guise of ‘fighting anti-Semitism‘. The project which offered so much hope and engendered such enthusiasm, is over. The ‘Friends of Israel’ have won- and until more find the courage to speak out, just like the little child in the ’Emperor’s New Clothes’, it won’t be the last time either.
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