Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Jeremy Corbyn & the Retreat from Palestine

Jewish Chronicle report of Corbyn Backing Down Over Israel/Palestine
Appeasing Zionism and Ignoring the Palestinians
I have know Jeremy Corbyn for over 30 years.  When I was the Chairperson of the Labour Committee on Palestine and Labour Movement Campaign for Palestine Jeremy Corbyn was a regular speaker at our fringe meetings at Labour Party conference.  Jeremy also spoke at a number of other meetings and helped out in other ways. There was no more dedicated a supporter of the Palestinians than Jeremy Corbyn. 

Jeremy subsequently became a patron of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, of which I was a founder member and he has been a regular speaker at their AGMS.  About 7-8 years ago Jeremy was the main speaker at Brighton PSC’s annual conference. 
Fabian Hamilton MP - Arch Zionist appointed by Corbyn to Shadow Junior Foreign Office Minister
Jeremy’s accession to the Labour Party leadership was greeted with ill-disguised horror and contempt by the Zionist movement.  The Zionists and their friends in the British press, notably the Daily ‘Hate’ Mail smeared Jeremy as a companion of holocaust deniers and the wretched Paul Eisen in particular.  See The Paper that Supported Hitler Accuses Jeremy Corbyn of Supporting Holocaust Deniers
Stephen Pollard, Jewish Chronicle Editor, member of the far-right Henry Jackson Society and former editor of the Daily Express, is an apologist for a raft of Europe's anti-Semitic politicians.  Pollard waged a nasty little smear campaign against Corbyn during the Labour leadership campaign accusing him of anti-Semitism. Ironically Pollard is the best friend of the genuine anti-Semites.  

Pollard described Michal Kaminiski, a Polish Member of the European Parliament and Chair of the European Conservative & Reform Group (which the Tories belong to), as the best friend the Jews could hope for.   Far from being an antisemite, Mr Kaminski is about as pro-Israel an MEP as exists.’ Pollard was being typically disingenuous because he knows as well as anyone else Zionism and anti-Semitism are different sides of the same coin.  Both the BNP and EDL are enthusiastic supporters of Israel as well as being holocaust denying organisations.  Pollard said of Kaminski that he was ‘‘one of the greatest friends to the Jews in a town [Brussels] where antisemitism and a visceral loathing of Israel are rife.’   Poland's New anti-Semitic Government -Israel Keeps Silent 

Kaminski campaigned against a national apology to Poland’s Jews for the burning alive of up to 900 Jews in a Polish village Jedwabne in 1941.  It wasn’t carried out by the Nazis but by non-Jewish Poles.  Kaminski said that it was Poland’s Jews who should do the apologising! The Hypocrisyof Jeremy Corbyn’s Accusers 
Rebecca Simon attacks Jeremy Corbyn as 'rubbish'
Then there was a debate during the Labour leadership campaign hosted by Labour Friends of Israel [LFI] and chaired by Jonathan Freedland.  Jeremy did his best to avoid the question of the nature of the Israeli state and wittered on about dialogue until it came out of his ears.  Jeremy gave the impression of having forgotten virtually everything about the nature of the oppression that Palestinians experience in the ‘Jewish’ state.  He seemed oblivious to the fact that Palestinians are the oppressed and the Israeli state is the oppressor.  He even opposed the boycott of Israeli goods although he eventually partially rowed back from that position when he said that he supported the boycott of Israeli universities who participate in military research and help the Israeli army in its repressive role.

At the Labour Party Conference Jeremy attended, for the first time ever, a LFI fringe meeting.  At the end of his speech he was heckled for not mentioning the word ‘Israel’.  There is no obvious reason why he should have agreed to attend a meeting of a group whose sole purpose is to support the repression of the Palestinians. 

An article in the Jewish Chronicle of 30th November 2015 exemplifies not only the weakness of Corbyn’s politics on Israel and Palestine but the pitfalls in being pro-Palestinian without, at the same time, being anti-Zionist.  Headed Corbyn admits: 'I will always recognise Israel’ it is one long series of concessions. 

The question is not whether one recognises Israel – it is clearly there – but what does one recognise the Israeli state as?  A normal western state or a racist settler colonial enterprise?  Corbyn is quoted as saying that he remained committed to a ‘comprehensive peace in the Middle East based on a two state solution…a secure Israel alongside a secure and viable state of Palestine.’ 

One might equally aspire to a moon made of cheese, because it’s not going to happen.  Zionism, the movement that formed Israel as a ‘Jewish’ state was based on the exclusive rights of the Jewish ‘nation’ to the whole of the Land of Israel.  Palestine is the Promised Land and the promise was made to the Jews not the Palestinians.  Zionism recognises no shared sovereignty in Palestine.  If it recognised the national claims of the Palestinians, Zionism would have to abandon its own founding ideology.  This is common to both Likud and the Israeli Labour party.

As Tzipi Hotoveli, Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister explained:

‘This land is ours. All of it is ours. We expect as a matter of principle of the international community to recognize Israel’s right to build homes for Jews in their homeland, everywhere.”  The Guardian, 22/5/15 

Today when there are 600,000 settlers in the West Bank, it is an exercise in self-deception to pretend that a genuinely sovereign Palestinian state is a possibility. 

Nor is it a question of one, maverick cabinet member.  It was Netanyahu himself who declared during the 2015 election campaign that "Whoever moves to establish a Palestinian state or intends to withdraw from territory is simply yielding territory for radical Islamic terrorist attacks against Israel,"   When asked if that meant a Palestinian state would not be established if he remained prime minister, he said: "Indeed."  Netanyahu says no Palestinian state as long as he's prime minister, Reuters 16.3.15.  
There was a time when Jeremy Corbyn agreed with the motion passed at the 1982 Labour Party conference in support of a democratic, secular state in Palestine.  Perhaps he still does agree with it but fears the repercussions if he says it out aloud.  More likely Palestine isn’t a political priority. 

However Jeremy needs to understand that advocates of the two states position today are effectively endorsing Israeli apartheid.  The only reason that western leaders don’t condemn Israel for refusing to grant the same political and civil rights to the Palestinians that Israelis enjoy, is that the prospect of governing themselves in an independent state is held out.  The Palestinians have been living under military rule for nearly 50 years.  The situation on the West Bank is one whereby the settlers and the Palestinians are governed by two sets of laws.  The settlers are governed by Israeli law, whereas Palestinians experience military law and the ‘justice’ of military courts with a 99.7% conviction rate.  This is clearly Apartheid yet there are those who pretend that this is a temporary phenomenon. 

Not one member of the Israeli cabinet supports a 2 state solution.  The peace process is a cover for Israeli apartheid.  2 States is a mirage, a conjuring trick intended to deceive.  In 50 years there will still be those who talk about 2 states.
Jeremy Corbyn and much of liberal social democratic opinion supports the Palestinians on human rights rather than political grounds they fail to make the distinction between an oppressed people and an oppressor people.  In short they support the Palestinians but they don’t oppose the Zionist movement which caused their dispossession and oppression and which presides over it today. 

And however much Jeremy Corbyn appeases the Zionist lobby in the Labour Party he will never be acceptable to them unless he dances the hora.  Rebecca Simon Vice-Chair of LFI said of Corbyn‘no one wants to vote for a leader they think is rubbish.  And he is rubbish – never mind about the Israel stuff, he is just not a credible opposition.’ JC 30.12.15.
What though is inexplicable is Jeremy Corbyn’s appointment of  Fabian Hamilton, MP for Leeds North-East as a shadow Foreign Office Minister,.  He is a Blairite who was put into the constituency after Liz Davies was selected and then deslected under Tony Blair’s regime.

In an article in Jewish News New shadow minister: Boycotting Israel and not vile dictatorships is anti-Semitic  January 13, 2016

Hamilton ‘said boycotting the Jewish state without taking action against other countries is “simply anti-Semitic”,  This was the fall back position of supporters of Apartheid in South Africa.  Why are you boycotting us when the Black African states surrounding us have a much worse human rights record.  The conclusion they drew, just like Fabian Hamilton, was that people were either communists or simply anti-White.

The answer to this stupidity was given by Albert Luthuli, the first African Nobel Peace Prize winner, who said that you can change your political views but never the colour of your skin.   But given that Hamilton’s views were no secret, the question is why Jeremy Corbyn appointed him at all.  In  his interview Hamilton was that it was a “huge surprise” to receive the call informing him of his promotion to Jeremy Corbyn’s top team after nearly two decades in the Commons.’  Hamilton was quite explicit:
“I will continue to support the State of Israel and defend my views on Israel. I don’t think I’ll have to defend them much because I can’t think anybody in the team I’m in is going to say we should go for a single state solution or that Israel has no right to exist – that’s absolutely not on the cards. The fact is the foreign affairs team will decide policy and there’s no way the team is going to be anti-Israel. Hilary (Benn) and I are pretty much on the same page regarding the two-state solution.”
Fabian Hamilton’s first reaction was to ask ‘if his support for Israel was a problem, he was told by Corbyn’s office in clear terms it wasn’t.’  If that is true then there are serious questions to be asked of Jeremy Corbyn.  Hamilton admits that his first reaection ‘was they wanted to change the perception of the Labour Party by having a Jewish MP who is strongly pro-Israel and also pro-Palestinian state in that position…. Hamilton ‘was absolutely staggered’ to receive a phone calling him to serve in the Shadow Cabinet.'  
Given that there are large number of Labour MPs who are sympathetic to the Palestinians, why did Jeremy Corbyn choose an out and out Zionist to serve along the tarnished Hilary Benn?  Hamilton believes that ‘power has caused him to modify his positions, pointing to some of the moderates he had appointed to his top team.’
So far Corbyn has done nothing to suggest that Hamilton’s remarks are in any way untrue. 
In politics you cannot run with the hare and hunt with the hounds.

Tony Greenstein 

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