Antisemitism in Britain’s Labour Party is now a major concern. What took everyone so long? Watch me expostulate about this to Avi Abelow of Israel Video Network.
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Good evening. Chancellor Philip Hammond will speak tonight at the Confederation of British Industry. He will press business leaders to show their loyalty to the UK by investing here and hiring British citizens. But he will also attempt to soothe and assure them that he will listen to their fears about Brexit.
This closed speech should be seen in context of Mr Hammond’s longstanding dovishness on this issue. He has alienated many in the cabinet by repeatedly arguing for protecting jobs and the economy over cutting immigration, but the dismal election result has only strengthened his hand. He has similarly been the sticking point in the row over lifting the public sector pay cap, which the Government today ruled out until 2018.
His soft approach is not shared by Theresa May. She is under pressure to set out, at the party conference in October, a timetable for her departure. The expectation is that she will stay until June 2019 to make sure Brussels know they will be dealing with her until the curtain. On Sunday the Telegraph reported that she is plotting to dramatically storm out of Brexit talks over the EU’s “divorce bill” in order to show she is “hard-nosed” and “hard-headed”. Such a set-piece would play well with the British press but less well with Michel Barnier, and its rumour suggests that she believes a Tory leader will always benefit domestically from getting into a fight with Europe. Critics will say she is prioritising domestic headlines over foreign relationships, but given the results of David Cameron’s approach, which tended in the opposite direction, I can understand her thinking.
Meanwhile, Labour is experiencing its own political strife. Chuka Umunna’s rebellion last Thursday over membership of the Single Market has left Corbynites furious, and now party chairman Ian Lavery has hinted at purging moderate MPs. The rebels, many of them from Remain-voting constituencies, believe that Labour must rally behind the Single Market to keep its coalition together.
On the surface, this makes sense. The parties’ fortunes in the recent general election are strongly correlated with the vote for Brexit. Labour captured 54 per cent of Remainers to the Conservatives’ 24 per cent, while the Tories won 65 per cent of Leavers to Labour’s 24 per cent. The Conservatives did best in areas where both the 2015 Labour vote and the 2016 Leave vote were high, suggesting Labour’s new coalition is intensely Remain-y. A full 43 per cent of Labour voters said they would like to stop Brexit happening if possible.
But those numbers are deceptive. For Conservatives, believing that Theresa May could “do a better job of negotiating the UK’s exit” was the single biggest reason to vote for their party (according to surveys by Lord Ashcroft). Yet for Labour – and indeed for the country as a whole – it didn’t even make the top three. And while 48 per cent of Tory voters brought up Brexit without being prompted as a reason for their decision, only 8 per cent of Labour voters did the same – behind spending cuts (11 per cent) and the NHS (33 per cent) and only barely beating poverty (7 per cent). What really motivated Labour voters was that they “trusted [its] motives”, “preferred [its] promises”, and believed it would run the economy better.
That suggests Labour’s voters are not actually fanatical Remainers, and are not going to be crestfallen when they discover that Jeremy Corbyn is a Brexiteer at heart (if indeed he is). Rather, they backed him because they believed in his values (though a cynic or a victim of IRA terror might suggest they cannot have known much about them) and agreed with his policies on welfare, public services, and other domestic issues. Their apparent enthusiasm for Remain is merely a proxy for their liberal, Leftist values.
If so, Labour moderates grandstanding over the Single Market are on a hiding to nothing. To Labour voters buoyed by Corbyn’s surprising success it is they and not he who will look like the wreckers. But perhaps the strife within the party is not really about Brexit. Perhaps it is, like the vote for Labour itself, about domestic politics and values. As Tom Harris writes, it is only the latest part of a very long battle between two sides who cannot coexist.
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According to the official narrative, U.S. President Donald Trump was hosting in Washington the leader of a long-friendly country and historic ally. In typical diplomatic niceties, Trump mentioned Turkey’s role as a pillar in the Cold War against Soviet expansion, and Turkey’s legendary courage in fighting alongside American soldiers in the Korean War in the 1950s. Trump also said, speaking of the present, that he looks forward to “working together with President Erdogan on achieving peace and security in the Middle East, on confronting the shared threats, and on working toward a future of dignity and safety for all of our people.” Facts on the ground, however, are frequently less pleasant than Kodak-moment niceties.
On June 8, the United Kingdom will hold its general election. Today, the London Jewish Chronicle released its polling on the Jewish vote in the upcoming contest, and the numbers are stark. 77 percent of British Jews say they will vote for Theresa May’s Conservatives, with just 13 percent voting for the opposition Labour party. For comparison, the 2016 exit poll by the Council on American-Islamic Relations showed that Donald Trump received 13 percent of the Muslim vote.
What has driven British Jews to flee Labour like minorities who fled the Republican party under Trump? As in the United States, this exodus is significantly attributable to the party’s radical leader, in this case, Jeremy Corbyn. In fact, a whopping 54 percent of Jews surveyed said they would be more likely to vote for Labour if Corbyn were not in charge. Who then is Corbyn, and why are British Jews so repelled by him?
To begin with, Corbyn has a long history of unsavory associations with anti-Semites. Among other exploits, he has:
— Donated to the organization of Paul Eisen, a Holocaust denier, and appeared at his events. He later claimed he was unaware of Eisen’s unsavory views, despite 15 years of association.
— Praised preacher Raed Salah and invited him to parliament. Salah claims that Jews make their Passover matzoh with gentile blood, that Jews had foreknowledge of 9/11, and that homosexuality is “a great crime.” He has been banned from the U.K. for anti-Semitic incitement.
— Invited activist Dyab Abou Jahjah to parliament and spoke alongside him. Abou Jahjah had called the 9/11 attacks “sweet revenge,” said Europe made “the cult of the Holocaust and Jew-worshiping its alternative religion,” and called gays “Aids-spreading faggots.” He is now banned in the U.K.
— Campaigned for the release of Jawad Botmeh and Samar Alami, who were convicted in Britain in 1996 for bombing the Israeli Embassy in London and one of the country’s largest Jewish charities.
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There is understandable anger and revulsion at Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s speech today drawing a link between the Manchester bombing atrocity and British foreign policy.
It is, of course, a frequent claim by Muslim terrorists that they are only killing western civilians because the west has killed civilians in the Islamic world. Indeed, they often specifically target for attack children and young people – as they did in Manchester and as they have often done in Israel – in revenge for what they claim to be the killing of their own children by the west.
It is therefore beyond nauseating for Corbyn to echo their attempts to shift the blame for their own heinous murder of innocents onto Britain or America. Which, despite his caveats, is what he did.
However, those who are rightly denouncing his remarks are themselves failing to acknowledge a crucial point. For Corbyn said this:
“… many experts, including professionals in our intelligence and security services, have pointed out the connections between wars that we have been involved in, or supported, or fought, in other countries and terrorism here at home”.
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Top UK Jewish officials have expressed concern over a Sunday Times report that Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn took part in an event at a Tunisian cemetery in 2014 during which a dead Palestinian terrorist linked to the 1972 Munich massacre was honored.
“It is high time that Jeremy Corbyn clarify his views regarding Palestinian terrorism,” Simon Johnson — CEO of the Jewish Leadership Council — was quoted by the Jewish Chronicle as saying. “At first sight, attending a wreath-laying ceremony of a known terrorist, who led one of the most notorious acts of international terrorism, the attack on the Munich Olympics, would appear to be beyond the pale.”
Jennifer Gerber — director of Labour Friends of Israel — was quoted as saying, “It is almost unbelievable that any Labour MP would participate in a ceremony honoring a man involved in the vicious murder of innocent Israeli athletes. Unfortunately, this appears to be part of a very disturbing pattern of behavior and we are seeking urgent clarification from the leader’s office on this matter.”
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Jeremy Corbyn will suggest today that British foreign policy causes Islamist terror attacks here at home. Certainly, it would be absurd to claim that there was no connection at all between western military action in Iraq and Afghanistan and 7/7, or 21/7, or the attempted terrorist attack on Glasgow Airport in the same year, 2007.
But is is worth pausing at the start, as the Labour leader seeks to get ahead of his critics, to ask what our foreign policy is now, rather than what it was ten years ago. We have withdrawn our soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan. We have no boots on the ground in Syria. Indeed, the Government has spent a lot of time and trouble trying to persuade Russia to ditch Assad, the mortal enemy of Islamists like Salman Abedi, the perpetrator of the Manchester atrocity. Mention of Abedi takes us to Libya, the country from which his Islamist father fled in 1992 to escape Gaddafi before Britain gave him and his family asylum. A decade or so later, David Cameron’s Government played an indispensable part in the overthrow of the dictator who that father hated.
The main Islamist force against which our armed forces are engaged in military action today is ISIS, the terror group which is attempting to form a pre-modern state in Iraq and Syria, complete with bans on music at parties, the teaching of evolution in schools, and the display of photographs in shop windows and women appearing in public – all complemented by forced conversions, the murder of prisoners of war, religious cleansing, floggings, rapes, stonings, the throwing of people from tall buildings, beheadings, crucifixions, burnings-alive and the use of children as suicide bombers. All this is expended on Alawites, Yazidis, Druze, Christians, Shia Muslims and indeed anyone ISIS disapproves of, including very many of their fellow Sunni Muslims.
A moment’s thought will confirm that there is no foreign policy Britain could introduce that could possibly appease the likes of Abedi. We are damned if we intervene, and damned if we don’t. If we intervene, we are accused of imperialism and wars for oil. If we don’t, we are accused of indifference to the plight and slaughter of Muslims. Either way, we lose.
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