Rabbi Abraham Cooper & Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld
Not a day goes by without headlines in the British media that detail the scourge of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. But a deeper look at the behavior of the party’s controversial leader reveals an even more severe problem, one that would shake to its core the country’s bilateral relations with the United States – as well as the war on terrorism.
Extreme left-winger Jeremy Corbyn was elected as Labour leader in September 2015. Half a year later, the first significant accusations of anti-Semitism in the party surfaced when Alex Chalmers, co-chair of the Oxford University Labour Club (OULC), resigned because club members made anti-Semitic remarks. It also became widely known that Corbyn had, in earlier years, been a frequent supporter of terrorists and terrorism movements. Furthermore, he supported and associated with Holocaust distorters, including Paul Eisen, also an extreme anti-Israel inciter.
Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) limited publication to the summary of OULC anti-Semitism investigator Baroness Royal’s report. Additional disclosures about anti-Semitic remarks by elected representatives led Corbyn to appoint an investigator, Shami Chakrabarti, who was unfamiliar with the issue. Her report, published on June 30, 2016, was unfocused and superficial. Soon, word got out that Corbyn had offered Chakrabarti a membership in the House of Lords. She then became Baroness Chakrabarti.
Regular disclosures about anti-Semitic statements by elected Labour representatives continued. Corbyn repeatedly promised that he would fight anti-Semitism in the party, but he did nothing. All the while, several Jewish Labour parliamentarians received thousands of hate letters and other threats.One of them, MP Ruth Smeeth, arrived the party’s annual conference in September 2016 with a bodyguard in tow. At the meeting, Corbyn’s associates managed to obtain control of the NEC.
In April 2018, most Jewish Labour MP’s spoke in the House of Commons about the harassment they underwent. A non-Jewish MP John Mann – long involved in the battle against anti-Semitism – mentioned a rape threat against his wife. She also received a dead bird courtesy of a Labour extremist. Unprecedented actions by British Jewish leaders included a street protest in March 2018. A subsequent meeting of two Jewish leaders with Corbyn produced no results.
The conflict intensified when the NEC recently accepted a diluted version of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition (IHRA) of anti-Semitism. The latter is commonly subject to discussion before approval. These expressions of institutionalized anti-Semitism are odious and threatening to British Jewry, but it is Corbyn’s long-term embrace of terrorists that should concern all democratic leaders and anyone committed to Western values.
Corbyn’s public friendship with terrorists – mainly Arab but also of the Irish Republican Army – dates back decades. In 2009, he invited members of Hamas and Hezbollah to the House of Commons and called them “his friends.” On another occasion, Corbyn called Hamas “his brothers.” In November 2012, he hosted a meeting in parliament with Musa Abu Maria, a member of banned terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
The Daily Mail recently exposed that, in 2014, Corbyn stood with a wreath next to the graves of several perpetrators of the Black September murders, which claimed 11 Israeli athletes during the 1972 Munich Olympics. He also once shared a platform with Black September terrorist and hijacker Leila Khaled.
It is also settled fact that terrorist supporters were among important financiers of his 2015 election campaign to become Labour leader. These included Dr. Ibrahim Hamami, a columnist for an official Hamas journal. Dr. Hamami gave Corbyn £2000.
Tedd Honderich, a retired professor at London’s University College, contributed £5000 to Corbyn’s campaign. This academic has publicly stated that Palestinians have a moral right to blow up Jews. He even encouraged them to do so by saying, “to claim a moral right on behalf of the Palestinians on their terrorism is to say that they are right to engage in it, that it is permissible if not obligatory.” Honderich has repeated such statements frequently.
According to Electoral Commission returns, previous donations to Mr. Corbyn included a gift of £2,821 from Interpal, a British charity that the U.S. designated as a terrorist organization, in 2013, due to its alleged ties to Hamas. A donationof £1,300 to Corbyn came from the Palestinian Return Centre. This organization has, in the past, faced accusations of being “Hamas’s organisational branch in Europe.”
Meanwhile, as the United States and many other Western governments are battling international and domestic terrorism mainly from Muslim perpetrators, the governing Conservative British government has great difficulty in developing a viable policy in the Brexit negotiations with the European Union. As a result, Labour has a realistic chance to win the next parliamentary elections that could take place earlier than the scheduled date in 2022. A Corbyn-led U.K. could present the introduction of a big Trojan horse into their own ranks.
Corbyn’s Labour Party has now belatedly adopted the IHRA’s full definition of anti-Semitism but attached a rider allowing for continuing criticism of Israel. If this move represents the beginning of dealing with anti-Semites and anti-Semitism within the party, including anti-Semites masquerading as anti-Zionists, then the Party can begin to write a new chapter. The fact that criticism of Israel and Palestinian issue were added to the adoption could be used to subvert the agreement by those who hate the Jewish state, home to the world’s largest Jewish community.
British Jewry cannot afford to suffer the normalization of anti-Semitism in a government charged with protecting all of its citizens, and the world cannot afford to lose one of the strongest and most stalwart fighters of terrorism. The time has come for the U.S. to voice strong disapproval of a major party leader who is manifestly unfit to lead a great democracy. And to those people of England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland who support Labour, we have one message: You are better than this.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper is the associate dean, director Global Social Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center
Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld is a prolific author and expert on European anti-Semitism. He is the former chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.