Corbyn’s Capitulation

The banner Corbyn shunned; the image references “The Lobby” films on Israel’s influence


Jeremy Corbyn has been the politician most maligned through bogus antisemitism. He has been an incredible supporter of anti-apartheid work both in South Africa and in Israel. The attacks on him hit the headlines when in July 2018 he was called an ‘f****** racist and antisemite‘ in the Commons by fellow Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge. The relentless bogus antisemitism attacks over the following year weakened his resolve to protest his innocence, as he and his supporters in the PLP faced an onslaught in the press.

At the 2019 Labour Conference in Brighton, Zionists slashed a banner with the above cartoon on it. The police initially did not intervene, but when the Zionists gathered en masse, they took the banner away to Police HQ. Corbyn astonished many when he subsequently declared the banner antisemitic. The artist, Carlos Latuff, was dismayed when he learnt of Corbyn’s reaction. The banner had been made by Pete Gregson; read his account of the attack in Off-Guardian. Corbyn’s condemnation was covered in many publications – see links to their coverage here.

As an update- Pete decided not to prosecute the police for accommodating the Zionists- although he could have, for the Police had broken the law, by undermining his freedom of speech. But what they would have come back in court with was that the banner’s removal was necessary to prevent a riot, and Pete suspected the judge may have sided with them on that. After he’d found a barrister to consider the case, Pete learnt that if he had won he might have secured just a few hundred pounds in damages. But if he’d lost, and been called upon to pay the police legal costs, that could have run to hundreds of thousands of pounds. It’s this threat, of having to pay the opposing party’s costs, that stymies many who would seek redress in the courts. So Pete decided not to proceed.

At Labour Conference the year prior, in Liverpool, the police had stopped Pete from putting up the banner- they were able to do so, because Conference in Liverpool takes place on land owned by Liverpool Council and is technically “private land”. Unlike in Brighton, where the street outside Conference is public. Read Pete’s account of his efforts to prosecute the police here.

For information on those who’ve gone to court over bogus antisemitism- see our page Legal Battles- Lost and Won

Support Corbyn

In spite of his capitulation over the banner, Corbyn deserves our ongoing support- most particularly over his stance on the deeply flawed EHRC report on Labour. The report claimed  there were “serious failings in the antisemitism complaint handling system”, “significant failings in the way the Labour Party has handled antisemitism” and “serious failings in leadership”. These are all rubbish- Corbyn appointed Jennie Formby who did a fair job of overhauling the processes- and whilst there were plenty of investigations and suspensions while Corbyn was in charge, there were few expulsions, because the flimsy nature of most antisemitism charges did not justify them. As soon as Starmer took over, they skyrocketed.

Corbyn knew there was not much real antisemitism in Labour

In spite of Corbyn’s 2019 declaration that Labour was a party for both Zionists and anti-Zionists, the Zionists, in the form of the Jewish Labour Movement (see more here) continued to pursue him. He resigned his leadership in Jan 2020 after losing the General Election- but following the flawed EHRC report on antisemitism in Labour, Corbyn pointed out that the scale of antisemitism had been dramatically overstated by politicians inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media. Keir Starmer then suspended him from Labour. Supporters have rallied round him, but in January 2022, Labour’s NEC voted (by 23 votes to 14) against reinstating Corbyn to the Party. Sir Keir and much of the PLP fear another Zionist attack on Labour in the press if they do otherwise.. And Starmer is, officially, a Friend of Israel to boot.

Corbyn’s views are backed up by academics and judges. Illan Pappe noted in 2018: “It is not the Labour Party that is infested with anti-Semitism; it is the British media and political systems that are plagued by hypocrisy, paralysed by intimidation and ridden with hidden layers of Islamophobia and new chauvinism in the wake of Brexit.”

In the same year, Stephen Sedley, a former Court of Appeal judge, dismissed the charge that the Labour Party was “institutionally” or “culturally” antisemitic. He wrote that “an undeclared war is going on inside the party, with pro-Israeli groups such as the Jewish Labour Movement seeking to drive out pro-Palestinian groups like the Jewish Voice for Labour by stigmatising them, and Corbyn with them, as anti-Semitic.” He believes that outside bodies like the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council – “neither noted for balanced criticism of Israel” – weigh in, aided by “generous media coverage”.

[There are sections about Labour’s Antisemitism Data and the Impact of the IHRA on Labour on our IHRA page here. ]

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