by Robbie Travers
I am not a Jew, and I have no links to Judaism. But if being a Jew offends antisemitic racists, then I am happy to call myself Jew, and to stand up and be counted with the Jews as a minority facing increased persecution across Europe.
- It is hard to believe that the party once led by Prime Minister Tony Blair, who assisted President Bush in leading the war on terror and fighting expansionist Islamist movements, is now being fought over and led by a man who voted against banning Al Qaeda as a terrorist organization.
- The idea that a single totalitarian Caliphate would bring increased democracy and stability, let alone civil and political rights, to an increasingly factional, corrupt and unstable Middle East, appears more a childlike, logic-defying fantasy.
- Isn't it usually secular societies that protect the rights of religious minorities, including Muslims, to practice their faith?
The UK Labour Party, which once stood proudly in solidarity with the victims of terrorism, now, under the would-be leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, seems to have become a haven for anti-Semites, Islamists and their apologists.
It is hard to believe that the party once led by Prime Minister Tony Blair, who assisted President Bush in leading the war on terror and fighting expansionist Islamist movements, is now led by a man who voted against banning Al Qaeda as a terrorist organization months after more than 200 people were killed in the 1998 terrorist attacks on the American embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.
Jeremy Corbyn alleges that he stands on a platform where "There is no place for anti-semitism or any form of racism in the Labour Party, or anywhere in society." He also says that Labour have taken "decisive action."
Despite Corbyn's protestations that he is an avowed anti-racist who condemns Islamism, and that he continually condemns anti-Semitism, this leadership has tolerated anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic dialogue and has drawn Islamists into the Labour Party. When Corbyn was asked to do more to tackle the rising climate of anti-Semitism, which has seen Labour MP Louise Ellman face anti-Semitic abuse, his brother, Piers Corbyn, tweeted: "ABSURD! All Corbyns are committed Anti Nazi. Zionists can't cope with anyone supporting rights for Palestine."
The remark suggests that anti-Semitism is just a recent prejudice, created only to aid Zionists, as response to the pro-Palestinian movement, rather than a movement of a people who have inhabited that area -- a sizeable section of which is even called Judea -- for nearly 3000 years. Until 1948, Palestinians did not even exist -- except as the accepted name of those Christians Arabs and Jews who lived under the British Mandate (1923-1948), after the Ottoman Empire collapsed.
Corbyn's followers, however, do not seem to be as keen as he claims them to be to condemn the rising culture of anti-Semitic mythology that tends to be propagated by many of his self-proclaimed acolytes.
The party that claims to be the epitome of anti-racism, has, in recent months has, rightly suffered at the hands of UK media exposés for its tolerance of racism -- in this instance anti-Semitism. It is a view that often seems to go hand in hand with apologists for extremist Islam and radical Islamic terror.
Labour Party MP Naz Shah (left), was recently suspended from the party for composing and sharing anti-Semitic tropes. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (right), has a tendency to hang around with Holocaust deniers, anti-Semitic hate-preachers and others of a similar ilk, and is a self-declared "friend" of the terror outfits Hamas and Hezbollah.
John Tummon, for one, repeatedly called, at the Left Unity 2014 Conference, for the restoration of a Caliphate comprising the entirety of the Middle East. He posited that a Caliphate, with the strict imposition of Islamic sharia law, would see that "diversity and autonomy are protected and nurtured and the mass of people can effectively control executive authority."
What strict implementation of Islamic sharia law usually sees, however, are women's personal, economic and political rights obliterated. The rights, in fact, of other religious minorities such as Yazidis, Alevis and Baha'i, as well as the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community and the Jews, would also suffer extreme persecution, as the latter already has, often with calls for annihilation, such as "Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the Gas."
The idea that a single totalitarian Caliphate would bring increased democracy and stability, let alone civil and political rights, to an increasingly factional, corrupt and unstable Middle East, appears more a childlike, logic-defying fantasy.
Tummon's motion also condemns secular politics by disparaging notions -- such as rights for the religious to worship free of persecution, and the separation of church and state -- as a "Eurocentric brand of secularism" which, he claims, forces Middle Eastern people to abandon their religious faith.
Wait, isn't it usually secular societies that protect the rights of religious minorities, including Muslims, to practice their faith? And that prevent religious extremists from dominating state politics and forcing their beliefs on others? Were the Christians in orange jump suits who had their throats slit by ISIS allowed to practice their faith? Was Asia Bibi, a Christian woman in Pakistan, on death row for having drunk water from the same well as Muslims and then refusing to convert to Islam, allowed to practice her faith?
Is it nations such as Saudi Arabia that Tummon apparently aspires to emulate: those with sharia law that do not allow a single place of worship for those outside Islam?
John Tummon has described the Islamic State (IS) -- a terrorist organization trying to convert or wipe out Yezidis, Kurds, and Christians in Syria and Iraq -- as an organisation with "progressive potential."
"Progressive potential"? Why is Tummon not defending LGBT rights instead of defending an organization that throws gays off rooftops?
Why is Tummon not defending women's rights instead of defending an organization that forces its sex slaves to take contraceptives so they can be raped without consequences? (In Islam, it is forbidden to rape a woman if she is pregnant.)
What sort of person would want to be associated with a party whose members have views such as these?
The headache for Labour does not simply end with Tummon's support for a Caliphate; he has also said: "and I advocated critical support for the development [of] ISIL." Is he arguing that that the UK should be providing military support for ISIL -- an organization that commits genocide against the religious minorities Tummon claims a caliphate protects?
Consider also the case of Gerry Downing who, until March was a Labour member. In March, live on UK television, Downing refused to condemn the murderers of 2,996 people in the 9/11 attacks, and continued on to say that the 9/11 attacks "must never be condemned." Does he therefore find some part of 9/11 supportable?
Downing was reinstated to Labour after his suspension, even after his comments on various blogs were known to the party. The Prime Minister, David Cameron, challenged Corbyn on Downing's views in Parliament, Corbyn didn't reply to the question.
Corbyn not only seems slow to react to issues of anti-Semitism; he also does not seem to stand in solidarity with the victims of terrorism. And that is supposed to be a qualification for a leader of the Labour Party? Was the association of Gerry Downing with the Labour Party desirable or even morally correct?
Another, member of the Labour Party, Vicki Kirby, was originally suspended in 2014 from the party for tweeting that "Hitler was a Zionist God," and "We invented Israel when saving [the Jews] from Hitler."
Kirby's views provide a greater insight into her, and possibly other individuals joining Corbyn's Labour Party, than into Israel or Jews.
Kirby seems to completely misunderstand the nature of Zionism, which is not to strip Arabs of their rights to land or form an expansionist Israeli state, but rather to protect Jews from being attacked and safeguard their rights. She also argued that "ISIS should attack Israel" -- a sentiment less than neighbourly. She also didn't fail to deploy the cliché that "Jews have big noses," apparently failing to observe that many Italians, Arabs and other people do too.
By mid-March, it must have been apparent even to Corbyn that Kirby might be a liability. An "investigation" into her remarks is still pending. Kirby is still suspended.
And what is Corbyn's answer to Beinazir Lasharie, who said that "Many people know about who was behind 9/11 and also who is behind ISIS. I've nothing against Jews... just sharing it!" Such remarks -- which wrongly attribute Islamist terrorist attacks to Jews -- seem intended to marginalize them in Britain; no wonder British Jews might feel at risk.
After being expelled from the Labour Party for her anti-Semitic views, Lasharie was quietly readmitted to the party in December .
Did I forget to mention Tony Greenstein, who, it is alleged, has claimed that Jews supported the Third Reich's Nuremberg Laws, which restricted Jews in virtually every area -- including political involvement, clothing, marriage, employment, and ultimately their existence. How then is it that there are many Arab members of Israel's Knesset? Greenstein maintains he is not anti-Semitic.
Khadim Hussain, a Labour Councillor and the former Mayor of Bradford, seems another part of the same pattern. He posted an image claiming, "[The UK] school education system only tells you about Anne Frank and the six million Zionists that were killed."
Not only is he falsely conflating Jews with Zionists; what is at least as worrying is that his remark indicates that the extermination of six million people is, or should be, forgettable. It also implies that the history of young Anne Frank, forced to hide, then herded into a concentration camp where she died for the "crime" of being a member of a religious and ethnic group -- a circumstance she did not choose and which occurred in another European country -- is not necessary to teach to children.
It is, and remains, absolutely necessary to teach children what people can do to each other when slaughter is officially sanctioned.
If these are the folks who make up Corbyn's Labour Party -- people who defend 9/11, support ISIS, marginalize Jews and liken Israel to Hitler -- are we all really supposed to rush out and vote for them?
I used to be a member of the Labour Party, until it was Corbynized. I do not feel like celebrating Hitler, demeaning the Holocaust, spreading racial smears about the Jews -- or anyone for that matter -- or claiming that Islamism and sharia law are "progressive."
I am not a Jew, and I have no links to Judaism. But if being a Jew offends anti-Semitic racists, then I am happy to call myself a Jew, and to stand up and be counted with the Jews as a minority facing increased persecution across Europe.
When I was growing up, my grandfather showed me a picture:
A now-famous photograph, in which a man identified as August Landmesser refuses to give the Nazi salute, was taken on 13 June 1936.
"Be like this guy," he said," no matter what the personal cost, because you should always do the right thing." My grandfather was right. I want to be that "guy" in the photograph who is standing up against the anti-Semitism re-emerging then in Europe and saying that enough is enough. I only wish more people in UK Labour were half as impressive and had half his character.
Robbie Travers, a political commentator and consultant, is Executive Director of Agora, former media manager at the Human Security Centre, and a law student at the University of Edinburgh.
Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.