X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

Please note: Previously subscribers used a 'WebID' to log into the website. Your subscriber number is not the same as the WebID. Please ensure you use the subscriber number when you link your subscription.

Status anxiety

Jeremy Corbyn and the hard left are wilfully blind to the evils of Islamist Nazis

It’s beginning to look as though the Labour leader really does sympathise with terrorists

23 January 2016

9:00 AM

23 January 2016

9:00 AM

Many people watching Jeremy Corbyn’s interview on Marr last Sunday will have been shocked by his remarks about the need to begin a ‘dialogue’ with the leadership of the Islamic State. ‘I think there has to be some understanding of where their strong points are,’ he said.

Afterwards, when these comments were widely reported, Corbyn’s supporters said they’d been taken out of context — the standard defence whenever he is criticised for saying something positive about Islamist terrorists, such as describing Hamas and Hezbollah as his ‘friends’ or the death of bin Laden as a ‘tragedy’. But there are only so many times this excuse can be used to explain these apparently supportive remarks. It’s beginning to look as though the Labour leader really does sympathise with terrorists.

It’s particularly difficult to make allowances for Corbyn when you take the broader context into account — the historical links between the hard left and Islamism. I’m currently reading The Flight of the Intellectuals by Paul Berman, which, in large part, is about the failure of the European left to see Islamism for what it is: namely, a Middle Eastern form of fascism. Berman documents in painstaking detail how Islamism was transformed into a mass movement by the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s to foment anti-British insurrection in the Middle East and as an instrument for carrying out the extermination of the Jews.

[Alt-Text]


The evidence linking Hassan al-Banna, the intellectual architect of Islamism and founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, to Nazism is substantial. For one thing, he singled out Hitler as a political role model in one of his political tracts. For another, he was a close ally of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, who helped set up a Muslim division of the Waffen SS in the Balkans. The Nazis gave the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies a good deal of resources, including a network of radio stations that the Grand Mufti used to disseminate pro-German propaganda. In 1942, one of these stations broadcast a speech telling all Arabs: ‘You must kill the Jews before they open fire on you. Kill the Jews who appropriated your wealth and who are plotting against your security. Arabs of Syria, Iraq and Palestine, what are you waiting for?’

Initially, the hard left had no difficulty in condemning Islamism. Tony Cliff, the founder of the Socialist Workers Party, wrote a pamphlet in 1946 drawing attention to the fascist nature of the Muslim Brotherhood. But various Trotskyist sects began to warm up to Islamism in the 1980s and 1990s, culminating in a full-blown coalition in the run up to the Iraq war. In mass protests organised by the Socialist Workers Party and its European counterparts in 2003, Islamists carrying the banners of Hamas and Hezbollah marched with veterans of the European internationalist left, including Jeremy Corbyn. For the most part they got on well, although there were occasional flare-ups. For instance, during an anti-war demo in Paris a gang of Islamists broke off to beat up a group of yarmulke–wearing Jews, even though the Jews had turned up to support the cause.

One reason for the hard left’s change of heart about Islamism was straightforward political expediency. Here was an anti-western political movement boasting huge support among disadvantaged groups of young Muslims in Europe’s major cities. If Trotskyist front groups like the Stop the War Coalition could harness these disaffected youths to their cause, it might lead to a much-needed injection of energy and resources. And to a limited extent, that tactic succeeded, with new hybrid political groups springing up, such as Respect.

But as Paul Berman points out, it was also an expression of a wilful political blindness. The hard left had so much in common with the Islamists — a history of fighting colonialism, a hatred of Britain and America, a contempt for liberal democracy, a romantic attachment to revolution and a willingness to countenance violence as a tool of political change — that they were prepared to overlook some of their less savoury beliefs, such as virulent anti-Semitism. They were also prepared to make excuses for the activities of their more radical elements, such as the Taleban and al-Qaeda.

Back in the 1940s, few would have predicted that this bastard child of Nazism would find an ally in the leader of the Labour party. But it looks increasingly as though that has happened and I doubt if Labour will ever recover.

Toby Young is associate editor of The Spectator.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.


Show comments
Close