Can you be sure, dear reader, you haven’t inadvertently indulged lately in a spot of Holocaust denial? A little light Jew bashing? The problem with modern life is there’s so much to remember. Have I got my keys? Have I got my money? Have I apparently become a member of an organisation which is vocal in its support of writer Roger Garaudy – who claimed the murder of six million Jews was a ‘myth’? Have I got my shopping list? No one can be expected to remember every last thing at all times.
We can, then, surely sympathise with Jeremy Corbyn’s discovery only last week that he was listed on its website as an international convenor of the Just World Trust, an NGO described by the Observer as a ‘trenchant critic of Israel.’ It’s the sort of thing that could easily slip anyone's mind. Likewise the Labour leader's inability to recall for sure whether or not four years ago he laid a wreath to deceased members of the Black September terrorist group in Tunisia. Most of us can’t remember what we did last week.
Dave Rich, head of policy at the Community Security Trust, points out that Jezza is ‘the unluckiest anti-racist in history. He repeatedly manages to get involved with organisations and people that promote anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial, apparently without ever noticing anything is amiss.’ There but for the grace of God go we.
It must be infuriating beyond words to again and again find yourself seeming, despite the very best of intentions, to endorse by association events at which Jews are likened to Nazis. ‘I have on occasion appeared on platforms with people whose views I completely reject,’ Corbyn says. Some guys just don’t have all the luck.
Imagine how maddening, for example, it must have been to appear on stage in London at an event with Leila Khaled, former leading member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a terrorist group that has been linked to the stabbing of Jewish children and the setting about of rabbis with meat cleavers. Khaled herself, in fact, was involved in a couple of sporty plane hijackings, memorably surprising authorities by producing hand grenades on a flight from Amsterdam to New York in 1970. Corbyn – no doubt utterly well intentioned – used the 2002 London event merely to call for a complete international trade boycott on Israel, but it was plane-jacker Khaled who stole the show. It’s the sort of thing that could happen to anyone.
Yes there was that nonsense about inviting representatives from terrorist organisations Hamas and Hezbollah to Parliament in 2009 and referring to them as ‘our friends’. But you don’t make a Middle East peace omelette without breaking a few eggs. No one could have been more shocked than him, surely, when some smartarse got hold of the 1988 Hamas Covenant and discovered the bit about ‘so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences’ being ‘in contradiction of the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement…There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through jihad.’ A simple mistake.
I know, I know. In 2011, Corbyn called Islamic Movement preacher Raed Salah a ‘very honoured citizen’, shortly before all that weirdness in which Salah was charged with inciting racism and violence against Jews and sentenced to eight months in chokey in Israel. But how was he to know? Presumably Salah – who was under house arrest in London when the two men met – did not, upon being asked if he’d like one lump or two, immediately begin ranting splenetically about the blood libel.
And, yes, Corbyn may, in 2012, have written a letter defending Stephen Sizer, the vicar disciplined by the Church of England for using social media to promote an article entitled 9/11: Israel Did It. But are we to judge everyone on their worst moments?
I grant the recent stuff about the event in Parliament on Holocaust Memorial Day in 2010 doesn’t look great either. But surely Jezza wasn’t to know leading Palestinian activist Dr Haider Eid was about to use it to state: ‘if there is something to learn from Gaza 2009 it is that the world was absolutely wrong to think Nazism was defeated in 1945… Nazism has won because it has finally managed to Nazify the consciousness of its own victims.’
Is Jeremy Corbyn an anti-Semite? Of course not. He’s just incredibly unlucky. Shalom.