Jeremy Corbyn for U.K. Prime Minister

JVL Introduction

Like Amira Hass, Gideon Levy has always stood tall among journalists still writing critically in Israel’s leading left liberal daily, Haaretz. Consistent in his implacable criticism of Israeli governments past and present for the occupation and their increasing ethno-nationalism, he believes a Jeremy Corbyn government will be good ­for Britain – and for Israel.

This article was originally published by Haaretz on Fri 9 Aug 2019. Read the original here.

Jeremy Corbyn for U.K. Prime Minister

Israelis regard him as a sort of alien – the left here has never been led by an Israeli Corbyn, nor by anyone who can hold a candle to him

Jeremy Corbyn is a paragon of a leftist, one who has fought his whole life for the values he believes in. Israelis regard him as a sort of alien – the left here has never been led by an Israeli Corbyn, nor by anyone who can hold a candle to him.

Corbyn is a brave man. He voted in parliament 553 times against his party’s position, and yet he took its leadership by storm. He voted against the war in Iraq, against nuclear weapons and against British rule in Northern Ireland. He was active in Amnesty against Augusto Pinochet, and was arrested in anti-apartheid demonstrations in South Africa.

With such a conscience and courage he wouldn’t have gotten anywhere in Israel, apart from Breaking the Silence. In Britain he has a good chance of being elected the next prime minister. Nothing lights up the imagination and inspires hope more than that. Anyone who wants to see the world take action against the Israeli occupation should dream of Corbyn.

Corbyn has been declared the next enemy of the Jews. Viktor Orban is a righteous among the nations; the American alt-right is the rock of Israel and its savior; Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines’ leader who called to kill millions “like Hitler,” is a welcome guest in Israel – and Corbyn is the enemy of the people.

The Jewish establishment in Britain and Israeli propaganda have taken out a contract on him, to foil his election: He’s an anti-Semite, Labor is anti-Semitic, Jewish life in Britain is in “existential danger,” no less, as three British Jewish newspapers cried out in a joint editorial.

While the situation of any Jew in Britain is better, safer, more egalitarian and freer than the condition of any Arab citizen in Israel, not to mention the Palestinians in the occupied territories, the Jewish establishment’s desperate cry for help raised an uproar and commotion against Corbyn.

The Israeli press hastened to join the incitement campaign – branding every Labor utterance as anti-Semitic. Party Member Peter Willsman branded the rabbis who accused his party of anti-Semitism as “Jewish Trump fanatics” – gevalt, anti-Semitism. Some commentator accused Corbyn of being too apologetic, another accused him of not apologizing. Even a young, impressive journalist like Antonia Yamin of Kan hastened to join the instigation crusade.

Let it be said: Corbyn is a staunch, consistent opponent of Israel’s occupation policy. That is his right; as a true leftist it’s his duty. On Labor’s fringes there are certainly anti-Semitic circles; Corbyn stated several days ago in an op-ed in The Guardian that they have no place in his party. The attempt to reduce what Labor defines as anti-Semitic, unlike the prevalent definition of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, doesn’t necessarily make the party anti-Semitic.

But the Jewish-Israeli propaganda persists: When Israel enacts the apartheid law and its soldiers kill 160 unarmed demonstrators on the Gaza border, the only response is to accuse anyone who criticizes this of anti-Semitism. It works, it places the accused in the prosecutor’s role.

Israel has enacted a law saying it is the nation-state of the Jewish people. In other words, anything Israel does represents the entire Jewish people. This has a price.

When an Israeli sniper shoots dead a legless man in a wheelchair, and a nurse – the Jewish people is a partner. Thus Israel’s policy is inflaming anti-Semitism in the world. It may and should be criticized, as Labor does and as Corbyn does, and the gagging, in the form of labeling any criticism as anti-Semitism, is outrageous. It also increases anti-Semitism and the feeling that the Jews are acting like bullies and using their power of emotional blackmail.

Hajo Meyer, a Dutch Holocaust survivor and human rights activist, once coined the phrase, “Once an anti-Semite was a man who hates Jews. Today an anti-Semite is a man whom the Jews hate.”

Leave the incitement campaign against Corbyn and wish him luck: He’s a man of conscience, and I hope he’ll be Britain’s prime minister. It could be good for Israel as well.

Gideon Levy

Comments (6)

  • Kathryn Hayman says:

    Thank you Gideon Levy. We need to hear more voices like this. it was a grave mistake when the Labour Party adopted the IHRA version of anti-semitism.I don’t understand what prompted this and what they thought could be gained from it. It’s just caused
    more problems and more confusion. it’s difficult to get our voices out there that is people who support Palestine and deploy the actions of the Israeli state. apart from demonstrations and raising awareness in town centres through leaflets and flyers that’s all we can do as ordinary citizens.

  • Jenny says:

    Gideon Levy, you’re a star! Hopefully you’ve sent this article for publication in the British media. If a British person had written this article, he/she would doubtless be branded an antisemite.

  • Naomi Wayne says:

    At last – a Haaretz article about Corbyn and supposed Labour antisemitism which says its a load of tosh. Thanks to Gideon Levy, who has broken ranks with fellow journalists on his paper who have joined the anti-Corbyn howls.

  • Margaret Spector says:

    Please let me know when and where this is published in UK. Maybe the Guardian will publish it but now they are just as biased as other papers

  • While it is excellent that Ha’aretz readers got an opportunity to read a more sane, objective view of Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party in Britain, and I very much appreciate Gideon Levy’s intentions here, he nevertheless has a very problematic statement towards the end of his article, and uses an unfortunate quote whose origins I suspect he is unaware of.
    Levy rightly criticises the Israeli government’s Nation-State law which effectively says that Israel’s actions represent the Jewish people. Levy warns of the price for this claim: Jewish people in general will be seen as partners to the crimes committed by the Israel’s government or military. Levy says: “Israel’s policy is inflaming anti-Semitism in the world.” But this is a very dangerous formulation that absolves antisemites of responsibility for antisemitism. However artrociously the Israeli government/military behave, there is never an excuse for antisemitism. We should be able to condemn Israeli actions and also condemn any outbreaks of antisemitism.
    Perhaps more unfortunate is the quote Levy attributes to Hajo Meyer a Dutch Holocaust survivor: “Once an anti-Semite was a man who hates Jews. Today an anti-Semite is a man whom the Jews hate.” Meyer did indeed write that in a book, but he didn’t invent it. He took it from another book written a few years earlier by a far right American Journalist who enjoyed the company of Holocaust deniers.
    This quote both denies the real existence of antisemitism and also absolves antisemites of their antisemitism. If it is still not clear what is wrong with it, try and substitute “islamophobe” for “antisemite” and “Muslims” for Jews. Hopefully it will become clearer.

  • Chris Howells says:

    Thank you for your clarity and analysis. Short, sharp and accurate

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