An open letter to Jeremy Corbyn

As the most left-wing candidate you should get my vote. But you won't. And here's why.

Jeremy Corbyn

 

Congratulations!

By securing a place on the ballot to become the next Labour leader you have put a spring in the step of many party members and trade unionists who feel that you embody their values better than any other candidate. (You embody only some of mine, trampling on some others, but I will get to that.)

You represent a clear alternative to the suffocating consensus that says there is no alternative to neoliberalism: marketisation, deregulation, privatisation, financialisation, an assault on the bargaining power of labor, regressive tax regimes, and cuts to welfare.

You will not tell us to be ‘intensely relaxed’ about people getting ‘filthy rich’ and you will not sneer at the trade union movement.

You are acutely aware that the transformation of European social democracy into a political force pursuing only a slightly kinder and a slightly gentler neoliberalism has caused the erosion of the emotional connection between the party and the working-class.

And you know that neoliberalism has eroded local democracy and the public realm, pushing aside actors other than those at the center, and then micro-managing Britain through a grim and relentless bureaucratising cult of quasi-government bodies.

On that basis you will secure the votes of many party members and trade unionists.

But you won’t get my vote.

You won’t get it because Labour’s best traditions also include anti-fascism and internationalism while your support – to me, inexplicable and shameful –  for the fascistic and antisemitic forces of Hezbollah and Hamas flies in the face of those traditions. In particular, your full-throated cheer-leading for the vicious antisemitic Islamist Raed Salah is a deal-breaker.

Why did you lend your support to Raed Salah? No, he is not a ‘critic of Israel’, but a straight-up Jew hater.

You said in 2012, ‘Salah is far from a dangerous man’, even though the left-wing, anti-Netanyahu Israeli newspaper of record, Ha’aretz, reported that Salah was first charged with inciting anti-Jewish racism and violence in January 2008.

You said ‘Salah is a very honoured citizen’, even though Salah was found guilty of spreading the blood libel – the classic antisemitic slander that Jews use the blood of gentile children to make their bread. He did so during a speech on 16 February 2007 in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Wadi Joz.

I mean, just listen to Salah: ‘We have never allowed ourselves to knead [the dough for] the bread that breaks the fast in the holy month of Ramadan with children’s blood’, he said. ‘Whoever wants a more thorough explanation, let him ask what used to happen to some children in Europe, whose blood was mixed in with the dough of the holy bread.’ (The UK Appeal Court decided that ‘We do not find this comment could be taken to be anything other than a reference to the blood libel against Jews.’ It also decided that this would ‘offend and distress Israeli Jews and the wider Jewish community.’)

You said: ‘Salah represents his people extremely well’, even though after the 9/11 terrorist attacks Salah wrote this in the October 5, 2001 issue of the weekly Sawt al-Haq w’al-Huriyya (Voice of Justice and Freedom): ‘A suitable way was found to warn the 4,000 Jews who work every day at the Twin Towers to be absent from their work on September 11, 2001, and this is really what happened! Were 4,000 Jewish clerks absent [from their jobs] by chance, or was there another reason? At the same time, no such warning reached the 2,000 Muslims who worked every day in the Twin Towers, and therefore there were hundreds of Muslim victims.’

You said ‘Salah’s is a voice that must be heard’ even though he has called homosexuality a ‘great crime’ and recently [preached that ‘Jerusalem will soon become the capital of the global caliphate’ which will ‘spread justice throughout the land after it was filled with injustice by America, the Zionist enterprise, the Batiniyya, reactionism, Paganism and the Crusaders.’ i.e. everyone who does not follow his brand of Sunni Islam.

You said ‘I look forward to giving you tea on the terrace because you deserve it!’, even though the Islamic Movement [the northern branch of which Salah heads] has eulogised Osama bin Laden and Salah has incited Muslims against Jews by writing incendiary lies such as this: ‘The unique mover wanted to carry out the bombings in Washington and New York in order to provide the Israeli establishment with a way out of its entanglements.’ Who do you think he meant by ‘the unique mover’?

Why is that kind of conspiratorial antisemitism, dripping with threat and menace, worthy of tea on the terrace?

And it isn’t just a problem with Salah, is it? You said it was ‘my pleasure and my honour’ to host ‘our friends from Hezbollah and our friends from Hamas’ in the Commons.

Really?

Why do you not care that the Hamas Charter states that ‘Islam will obliterate Israel’ and enjoins all good Muslims to kill Jews, whom it blames for all the wars and revolutions in classic antisemitic fashion?

Why don’t you challenge your ‘friends in Hamas’ about the inclusion in their Charter of this canonical Hadith: ‘The Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdullah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.’

And why are Hezbollah your friends? They are an antisemitic Islamist goose-stepping ‘Party of God’ who persecute (and assassinate) liberals and democrats in Lebanon whenever they can. The Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said ‘If Jews all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.’ (NY Times, May 23, 2004, p. 15, section 2, column 1.)  Your ‘friends’ were enthusiastically slaughtering Syrian civilians on behalf of the Assad regime long before ISIS or Jabhat Al-Nusra joined the fray.

Yes, you will say I am part of the Israel lobby and people should pay no heed. Yes, I work at the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre. But here’s the thing. I have the same views now about the Israel-Palestine conflict as I did when I was a member of the Socialist Organiser Editorial Board and you were with Labour Briefing back in the 1980s. (I think our two organisations may have even ‘fused’ at some point, though those days are a bit hazy now.)

My views have not changed since I was a member of the editorial board of Historical Materialism. They are the same views I had when we debated each other at Birmingham University some years ago: I believe in two states for two people, a secure Israel and a viable Palestine, a democratic solution to an unresolved national question based on mutual recognition and support for the right to national self-determination of both peoples.

I edit a journal, Fathom, which publishes many voices critical of the current Israeli government, from the Israeli left, from Israel’s Arab citizens, and from Palestinians.

I just do not understand how you can support so unthinkingly those political forces which oppose to their dying breath everything  – literally, everything – the labour movement has ever stood for: trade union rights, freedom of speech and organisation, women’s equality, gay and lesbian rights, anti-racism, the enlightenment, and reason.

But as long as you do support those forces you will not get my vote. As long as you do, I will just have to remain politically homeless. Which is a pity, because there you are on the TV screen, talking with élan like a proper social democrat about full employment.

I want to cheer you on. Can you respond in such a way that I can?

Alan Johnson is the editor of Fathom – For a deeper understanding of Israel and the region, and works for the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM)

494 Responses to “An open letter to Jeremy Corbyn”

  1. John C

    You really can’t even read, can you?

  2. Duncan_McFarlane

    If Amnesty is so biased why does it condemn acts of terrorism and war crimes by Hamas’ armed wing the Al Qassam Brigades, by Fatah’s armed wing, by Islamic Jihad, constantly, along with war crimes by Israeli forces? All you have is a conspiracy theory and some conspiracy websites. If the Elder of Zion and UK Media Watch are supposedly so balanced why have they never criticised any action of the Israeli government? Why do they deny that the Israeli government and military have ever done anything wrong in the face of reports by Israeli military veterans, half the world’s media and all of the world’s human rights groups including Israeli ones like B’TSelem? Because they are utterly biased to one side.

  3. Duncan_McFarlane

    I don’t love or hate either side in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, because there is no faction involved that doesn’t have the blood of plenty of civilians on their hands, including by targeting them. Yet when i point out that obvious fact, attested by a massive range of sources with a track record of reliability and neutrality, you respond with ridiculous accusations of anti-semitism and bigotry based on two websites blatantly biased towards one side.

  4. Duncan_McFarlane

    I strongly suspect based on your comments that you have never read an Amnesty International report or so much as an Amnesty Press Release, because if you did you would know they aren’t biased. So you’ve just been reading second hand accounts from a couple of websites with a blatantly 100% pro-Israel line.

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  6. Lizzy Lass

    the previous ayatollah of iran married a girl aged 10.
    care to comment on that?
    or are you too busy with your head down the toilet bowl of igorance and whitewashing?
    you are a moronic apologist for islam and as such your comments must be thrown out.

  7. Paul D'Ambrosi

    1)Why would anyone believe the liberal ‘left’ favors Wahabi/ISIS types? 2) Why is Israel suddenly or not so suddenly BFF with the Sauds and also complicit with ISIS’s growth? Answer? To oust Assad etc.3) Why all the misinfo? “Iran wants to wipe Israel off the map ” Iran ready to nuke 1980—–2015

  8. keggsie

    Did you know in mediaeval times in this country that marriage was actively pursued at a very young age. The age of consent in this country was also 14 for a boy and 12 for a girl until quite recently. Did you also know that until 1911 it was quite legal for a man to sell his wife if he couldn’t afford to divorce her.

    Making generalisations about what went on in history and trying to apply that to the modern day is not only ridiculous but stupid.

    This open letter is nothing more than an attack on Jeremy Corbyn because he dares to say what many people think.

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  10. Matt Templeton

    I read Owen Jones’ tweet quoted above as conveying the general sentiment: “Global injustice, wars against predominantly Islamic countries, a history of meddling in such countries by the West etc. are no excuse. This is a crime, pure and simple and to be condemned in the strongest terms rather than in any way excused.” Did I misinterpret this?

  11. Matt Templeton

    I think that JC has said that regarding the EU, it has not necessarily been run in a way which is in the interests of our country as a whole and on that basis he would want to change it significantly, and does not rule out leaving. 1, this is totally at odds with the Westminster consensus and the three other leadership candidates. And 2, it’s very likely his position is fundamentally about the impact on workers’ power in the marketplace of free movement.

    Of course such a position is separate from one’s attitude to refugees.

    And of course he is not simply saying ‘we’re leaving the EU.’

    But his position is nuanced and he raises the issue of the economic impact on everyday people.

    Directly responding to the point ‘where are the hundreds of millions of jobs going to come from…’ I think that a million job programme of house building and green measures (e.g. this, http://www.campaigncc.org/greenjobs) would significantly dent unemployment rates and housing costs though I accept it would probably increase incoming migration.

    But of course, it should inspire similar programmes across the world, giving people more reason to stay put.

  12. Jacob Dissel

    He’s not antisemitic. He’s not racist to anybody. He’s not a supporter of terrorism or antisemites and he’s made this clear repeatedly. He has also been involved in diplomacy with Shin Fein – why not accuse him of being a supporter of the IRA as well? Why not? Simply because the right wing shmarta you read didn’t go in that direction?

    He was being taken away in handcuffs due to his opposition to apartheid decades ago, which should have been more than enough clues to help you figure out he’s not racist. Evidently not. Evidently you need to consult the Daily Mail for further guidance during this brain teaser that’s got you so innocently baffled, you imbecile.

  13. Euro2000

    In Holland – the low age of consent allows teenagers to go with each other – not a 13 yr old with a 50 year old man. Similarly – during the time of Genghis Khan the Mongols allowed 15 year olds to select a partner from a group of other 15 year olds. Not old Khan taking a baby for himself.

    [Aisha’s father objected – and Muhammad pulled rank on him. Muhammad died when Aisha was about 18 and she was then sold off in marriage to the highest bidder. There were other hadiths that showed Muhammad was interested in a 2 yr old – but died before he could bring her to his home. Which is why Islamic law allows a man to take a child as young as two – as a spouse.]

    Shame – to be on the Left today – you must embrace the sharia!!

    If you were an ex-Muslim – with the Left – you would become a ‘racist’ by default. Especially if you dared say – someone tried to kill you or members of your family for leaving the religion – that would be criticism of Islam – now forbidden on the religious Islamic compliant Left.

  14. mark

    Ever wondered why you think its a holy work, to be like satan(liar and the father of lies/best of deceiver).

  15. mark

    Islam in depth, first really we only need to know what muhamad was, since muslims say he is the ultimate example.

    From Quran, hadith and sunna.

    Filthy old paedophile, animal sex molester, rapist, also a paedophile with boys, homosexual, transvestite – boasted that he lliked wearing aishas clothes more than other womans clothes, liar, murderer and thief.

    Thats why satan picked him to start islam.

  16. mark

    Rotherham and the other areas of britian, the muslims dont see they are doing anything wrong, since islam teaches them they can have as many ‘right hand possessions as they like’ SLAVES.

    Islamic slaved trade been going on in the uk for at least 20 years!!!

  17. mark

    I find corbyn rather an evil man.

  18. Last Hussar

    Opposing Israel isn’t anti-Semitism. The Israeli right may like to cast it that way, but it isnt. Its to oppose the illegal settlement by military force.

    If you want peace, at some point you have to talk to the other side. The leaders of the other side may be racist, but they are the leaders. The leaders of Israel are also racist, as their subjugation of Palestinians shows. The reason there are such radicals at the top of the Palestinian movement is that Israel have shown no desire to move to a negotiatable position: What ever they say, the building of illegal settlements proves they do not care.

  19. Barry Trestain

    Oh dear.

  20. Jezza

    Excellent comment.

  21. Jezza

    Spot on.

  22. Kyl

    excellent points !

  23. Isy Borensztajn

    Looks like Mr Johnson, despite some crystal clear remarks, seems to ignore that there isn’t such a thing “Palestinian People”. It was invented in the aftermath of Israel’s victory in 67 as another mean to Besmirch, Demonize and Slander(BDS) Israel. The so called “Two States Solution” is nothing more than the Old Arab “Two Stages Solutions”aiming the obliteration of the Jewish State. Today’s World Left, ,is completely unaware(or pretends to be) of the curse of History. A little bit of History reading(besides tendentious newspapers) is no harm to anyone.

  24. Non-Aristotelian

    That’s a pretty poorly thought out reason and appears to be disingenuous. Support is a strong term and deliberately used in a pejorative way. Recognition of the referent issue is the main point i.e. the maiming and killing of innocent people, bombing and targeting UN based hospitals and the like along openly expressing the genocidal policy of ‘mowing the lawn’. Corbyn expresses opposition to that and to all killing on both sides. He opposes the annexation and the open prison where the people are put on strict calorific rations. That’s very different to supporting Hamas et al, so stop talking in assumed, high level abstraction, reifications and outmoded Aristotelian true/false dichotomy and deal with the referent at issue.

  25. Bullfrog

    Professor Johnson, your ‘open letter touches’ the points that so many ignorant Arab lovers need to read. Whilst the Palestinians have had so many injustices, many by their own people, it is time the world woke up to the fact that tiny Israel is not the problem. However anti semitism is so deep roooted across many political arenas, Israel will always be poorly viewed.

  26. Thor fenris

    Netherlands has an age of consent of 16 so when you said it was ‘about 13’ last time you checked you just lied,

  27. Sarita La Cubanita

    I just saw this. Jeremy Corbin needs to live in a Muslim country. He wouldn’t last too long before the Islamists would find him to be an unworthy infidel, tie his hands and feet, blindfold him, and fling him off a roof.

  28. Sarita La Cubanita

    1.8 BILLION Muslims are blaming all of their failures on tiny Israel, which is the size of the tiny state of Vermont.

    Of course the atrocities committed by Muslims from the year 610 to the present have nothing to do with the Koran’s 164 jihadist verses instructing Muslims to murder Jews. Of course not.

    Of course the Muslims’ beheading their way through Egypt (a Christian country), Syria (a Christian country), Spain (where they beheaded so many that they made piles of heads, and sent home to as sex slaves every blonde Spanish woman they found), and so on. Of course not.

    Of course butchers such as Sadam Hussein and the Ayatolah Khomeini have nothing to do with the violence in the Koran. Of course not.

    Of course the misogynist atrocities committed against females have nothing to do with the Koran. Of course not.

    Nope. Islam is a religion of peace and love. LUV! Didn’t you all know that?

    It’s tiny, microscopic Israel which is causing all the horrors in the Muslim world and causing Muslims to commit atrocities. Of course!

  29. Duncan_McFarlane

    Quite happy to blame Islamic extremists for their atrocities, and to condemn terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians by Palestinian terrorists like the current campaign of random stabbings – but it’s a bit far fetched to claim that Hamas or Muslims forced Israeli forces to shoot kids throwing stones, or just protesting peacefully with live ammunition, or shoot down Palestinian civilians going to check on their homes during a ceasefire in Gaza with aimed artillery ,tank and machine gun fire; or bomb half of Gaza and all the civilians in it to punish Hamas.

  30. Sarita La Cubanita

    Of course you’re not happy to blame Islamic anything for anything. In fact, you liberals have developed a whole scapegoating technique to find relief for whatever ails you by blaming Israel for things it isn’t guilty of, and even including all acts of terrorism by all 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide.

    As for the so-called Palestinians, if you were honest, or had any sort of knowledge of the history of these so-called Palestinians, and how they got where they are today, and (most important) who they really are, you wouldn’t be posting the anti-Semitic claptrap you’re posting.

    I’m Cuban by birth, but I am quite familiar with the entire history of the Muslims and the Jews, not merely the recent fabrications by liberals and Muslims, and unlike you, I do not lie.

  31. Brutus

    Did you also know that until 1911 it was quite legal for a man to sell his wife if he couldn’t afford to divorce her.

    Total nonsense. Wife-selling did happen (usually with the woman’s consent) as a way of separation, and people sometimes got away with it, especially as what the lower-classes did among themselves was often not rigorously policed – but it was never remotely legal.

    Since the late 18thC (the Lord Mansfield judgment) it has been illegal to buy or sell a human being in England – though this did not apply to Scotland. However, I do not fancy your chances if you try to sell a Scot nowadays.

  32. Duncan_McFarlane

    Yeah “us liberals” all the same. All Muslims, all the same, with no different interpretations of the Quran and Hadith. So all Christians and all conservatives must be identical, right? They must all take the entire Bible literally and to apply to the present – including all the passages in the Old Testament calling for all those who worship other gods, all gay people etc to be killed? You must be all identical to David Koresh and other cultists? That’s the exact logical corrolary of your (completely illogical) argument which has no basis in facts. Liberals vary a lot in their opinions and actions. So do Muslims. Stop viewing a complicated reality through your ideological blinkers.

  33. Sarita La Cubanita

    You’re SO right. Instead of analyzing the ideologies which pull people together into groups, let’s just take each individual on his own, separately and make our policies super-flexible so that we can handle each tiny individuality.
    :::twilight zone music:::

  34. Duncan_McFarlane

    Yes, because there’s no middle ground between hating all Muslims and pretending they all have identical beliefs to Islamic State and Al Qa’ida and analysing each individual separately. You know there is. There are plenty of Muslims who condemn terrorist attacks and extremism. There are Muslims who don’t take the entire Quran and Hadith literally and who don’t think every passage in it applies to the present day.

    Maybe you’re just playing dumb to try to avoid the fact that you have a prejudice against all Muslims as bad as any anti-semite’s irrational hatred of all Jews?

    “All Muslims are the same” is not a rational argument nor based on facts any more than “All Jews are the same”, “All black people are the same” etc

  35. Sarita La Cubanita

    “There are plenty of Muslims who condemn terrorist attacks and extremism.”
    I must not know the ones who are. I think they can be counted on the fingers of my hands.

    I know whom I’m voting for. Shariah is the enemy, and Shariah is what makes Islam what it is. Without misogyny there would be no Koran, no Islam, no Muslims, and no Muslim terror or atrocities.

  36. Sarita La Cubanita

    Islam is a sadistic, psychopathic, monstrous cult. The Koran is its guidebook, along with its 164 jihadist verses calling for the murder of non-Muslims if these do not convert. Islam has been in the business of committing the most nefarious, monstrous crimes against humanity for 1400 years.

    Islam is well known for denying (around the globe) even the most basic rights to females, massacring them, removing their genitals (equivalent to the excision of the male organs) and forcing other females to do this to little girls or else, terrorizing all females, forcing them to dress in furniture covers even in the hottest climates known to humanity, stoning them to death when they are raped, forcing them to accept other wives because males have not only the only rights, but sexually perverse rights as well, having laws which permit rape and beatings, and thousands of other heinous acts. But you’re fine with Islam. Eh?

    But women are not the only victims of Islam. Gays are victims – stoned to death and thrown off roofs, simply for being who they are. Christians and Jews are victims of Islam. And other Muslims are victims of Islam because there literally is no Islamic country which is not a hellhole of ugliness, because in a place where the Koran is the undisputed ultimate law, only sadism and chaos rules, and to maintain a semblance of order is possible only via leaders who are butchers. Some butchers are secular (Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, for example), and some butchers are religious (Iran’s Ruhollah Mūsavi Khomeini, for example). Of these two types of butchers, secular butchers are less horrific for women, because at the base of the evil inherent in Islam is the Koran, and the Koran’s key is misogyny. Destroy Islamic misogynists, and you destroy the entire Islamic world.

    But you’re happy with Islam. Right? You will engage in any apologia you can in order to promote Islam and spread propaganda for it. “Aw, but some of my best friends are Muslims and they treat me marvelously!”

    As a friend of mine said: “Islam is a man’s machination of an interpretation of what is passed off as divine inspiration. Islam is ultra conservative, violent and oppressive, and has every trait possible that resists change. Progressive, politically correct multiculturalists in the West who only think they understand it, are well and truly going to be inseminated, with a capital “F”.”

    Hopefully you’re Islamic. I’d hate to think you’re a hand-wringing, weepy, disarmed, Mea Culpa liberal defending this ultra-right wing ideology called Islam, who will be used by the Islamics as a dhimmi, to spread taqiyya, then strangled with his own intestines when they are done using you.

  37. Duncan_McFarlane

    I’m neither a Muslim nor religious in any way. You talk about what backward and extremist Muslims believe and do and pretend that all Muslims have exactly the same beliefs and believe the same way when they clearly do not.

    But because you are so blindly prejudiced that you can’t accept that not all Muslims have the same version of Islam, you try and accuse me of supporting hardline Islamism, which i never have and never will.

  38. Sarita La Cubanita

    Are you saying that Muslims are not Muslim? There is only 1 Koran, with its 164 jihadist verses calling for the death of non-Muslims. Are you perhaps discussing EX-Muslims? For example, Nonie Darwish? If so, then I’d agree with you. Otherwise – NO.

  39. Whatever

    Hamas is just the latest excuse for Israel to attack Gaza. This is why Hamas and Hezbollah exist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIxwO6Cx4BY

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  41. Hudson

    Ahh yes – a burning issue among the good folk living in poverty and attempting to survive on benefits or minimum wage in the UK. Still – it is the principal that matters isn’t it?

  42. keeping it simple

    Corbyn to go… The Mans a fool…. BRING IT ON

  43. Why you shouldn't vote for Jeremy Corbyn | Coffee House

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