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A perfect storm

The ‘get Corbyn’ campaign is upping the ante and making a mockery of democracy, says HILARY WISE

ANOTHER day, another ancient tweet triumphantly brandished, another ostentatious resignation. The avalanche of anti-Corbyn attacks continues despite the Labour Party’s latest attempt to placate the accusers.

Most of the British public must find these displays absurd and bewildering. What on Earth is going on?

The fact that virtually all the anti-semitism slurs have had support for Israel at their core says it all. 

The 2017 Al-Jazeera documentary The Lobby revealed Israel’s deep involvement in British politics and its determination to “take down” politicians supportive of Palestinian rights.

The left, traditionally in the vanguard of the struggle for human rights, was a principal target.

When Jeremy Corbyn became leader in 2015, it was open warfare. But why the fratricidal infighting within the Labour Party? 

Many MPs believe Labour must at all costs continue to occupy the “centre ground” in the political spectrum and preserve a neoliberal approach to the economy. 

Corbyn represents a major threat, despite or maybe because of the massive grassroots support he has brought to the party.

The right wing sacrificed the last election — Labour gains showed that a unified party would have been in a position to form a government — and no doubt some are prepared to sacrifice the next.

Charismatic young hopefuls like Chuka Umunna probably calculate that they will then be well placed to step forward and take up the reins of leadership, either of a Labour Party purged of the left or of a new centrist party.

For them, the anti-semitism campaign is simply a convenient weapon to use against Corbyn.

Careerist shenanigans have always been a feature of political life, but it remains to be seen whether party members will forgive and forget machinations of such magnitude.

Naturally the Tories, the mainstream media and the rest of the Establishment are all too happy to join in the fray and gleefully amplify every story unearthed or invented by the army of “researchers” digging into Corbyn’s past.

However, this unholy alliance represents a toxic cocktail that could have lethal long-term consequences not only for our democratic system and the rule of law but also for British Jews.

For one thing, the fanaticism with which the apologists for Israeli policies are waging the campaign may well backfire.

The absurdity of bringing outrageous accusations against the least racist political leader in British history must strike even the most apolitical observer and it runs the risk of causing people to discount reports of genuine anti-semitism. 

The campaign could also actually fuel anti-semitism in this country. If we are to believe Benjamin Netanyahu and the extremists in the pro-Israel lobby, to be Jewish and to be Israeli are one and the same thing. 

So when the public witnesses yet another onslaught on Gaza or learns of the treatment of child prisoners or sees illegal settlers on the rampage in the West Bank, it may hold British Jews at least partially responsible.

The crux of the matter lies in Israel’s end game in the Middle East. Settlements on the occupied West Bank are being rapidly expanded and legislation enacted, with a clear view to annexation

Former US secretary of state John Kerry famously lambasted the Israeli government for its lawless policies in the West Bank, which have made a Palestinian state impossible. 

But with Donald Trump in power, a window of opportunity has opened. The dream of a Greater Israel on all of what was once Palestine is now within reach.  

If international opinion can just be silenced for another year or two, annexation, with the Palestinian population herded into bantustans or driven out altogether in a re-enactment of 1948, could be a fait accompli. 

Israel will have achieved this by consistently exempting itself from the rule of international law which protects people under occupation.

There is a bitter irony in this. 

Most international law relating to occupied territories and the mistreatment of racial groups was formulated, immediately following the second world war, at the Nuremberg trials and soon after. 

Concepts like “war crimes,” “crimes against humanity” and “genocide” were given legal status and bodies of law like the Fourth Geneva Convention were formulated, in an effort to prevent such horrors ever occurring again.

For the first time in history states could be called to account by the international community.

But now Israel, of all countries, seems able to act with impunity as it trashes one of the finest human achievements of the 20th century.

What kind of message does that send to other nations tempted to apply the law of jungle rather than the rule of law?

Britain helped to formulate and apply the postwar legislation and used to be a bastion of free speech.

Now the “get Corbyn” campaign is threatening to take us down a very different path. 

The smear campaign appears to be pretty well unstoppable, with the media in full cry and the right scenting blood.

The coup de grace may be attempted at the Labour Party conference at the end of the month. It is rumoured there will be an all-out push to oust Corbyn. 

A pincer movement, combining an ambush on the issue of Brexit with claims Corbyn is unfit to lead the party on the grounds of unrepentant anti-semitism, may just do the trick. 

A fortuitous but disastrous combination of interests is now converging to deal democracy a very cruel blow.


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