Corbyn and ‘Zionists’: Isn’t Irony a bitch…

So Jeremy Corbyn thinks that ‘Zionists’ cannot be properly British. For anyone who responds that this isn’t antisemitic because non-Jews can be Zionists, I refer them to David Hirsh:

‘Sometimes people say that hostility to Zionists cannot be antisemitic because many Zionists are not Jewish. Imagine if Corbyn had said this about a non-Jewish Zionist; take for example the well-known Zionist Tony Blair. What sense would these words possibly have made in that context?  ‘Blair has lived amongst us all his life but he still doesn’t understand English irony.’ Corbyn would never say that because it wouldn’t mean anything. It wouldn’t key into any emotional order; it wouldn’t humiliate Blair, it would just sound weird.

Imagine if a politician had said this about a group of black people or a group of Muslims: that in spite of having lived in this country for all their lives, they were unable to understand English irony.’

And here is Richard Millett in today’s Mail:

‘I am English. I have been part of English irony, humour, culture, for the last 50 years. It just seems to be that I am not part of Jeremy Corbyn’s Britain.’

Daniel Sugarman in the JC hammers the point home:

‘I know exactly what the line from Corbyn supporters is going to be, because I’ve already seen it being used online.

Zionist doesn’t necessarily mean Jew.

That’s true. There are many Christian Zionists, for example.

But you would have to have very few brain cells indeed not to comprehend that for over a century, “Zionist” has been used by racists on the far-right, and increasingly on the far-left, as a euphemism for “Jews.”

But it goes beyond that. Because I know exactly who that group of “Zionists” are who Jeremy Corbyn was referring to.

They go along to such events because they are not willing to let what is very often open hatred and bigotry go undocumented and unchallenged.

To a man and woman, they are all Jewish. With no disrespect meant to non-Jewish Zionists, this group of activists are driven to attend ostensibly “anti-Israel” events, week in and week out, year in and year out, because they know where such hatred can lead, in a way that many non-Jews never could.’


Here’s what Corbyn said again:

“The other evening we had a meeting in Parliament in which Manuel made an incredibly powerful and passionate and effective speech about the history of Palestine and the rights of the Palestinian people. This was dutifully recorded by the – the thankfully silent Zionists who were in the audience on that occasion and then came up and berated him afterwards for what he had said.  They clearly have two problems: one is they don’t want to study history and secondly having lived in this country for a very long time, probably all their lives, they don’t understand English irony either. Manuel does understand English irony and he uses it very very effectively.”

He was speaking at the Quaker Centre in London (the Friends House) at a Palestine Return Centre Conference on 19 January 2013. The meeting where ‘Manuel’ (Hassassian, the Palestinian Representative in the UK) spoke was a few days before, on 15 January, in the Boothroyd Room in Portcullis House (UK Parliament). There were no “thankfully silent Zionists” (plural) who “berated” Hassassian for what he said. Corbyn only used the plural to make his put-down more dramatic.

As Daniel Sugarman writes, ‘I know exactly who that group of “Zionists” are who Jeremy Corbyn was referring to.’  It was Richard Millett and me of course. But I wasn’t there on 15 January 2013. I was preoccupied with the Board of Deputies’ ill-fated Oxfam project (the vote was on 20 January 2013). Only Richard was there. Only one ‘Zionist’ (singular).

And look at what a Labour ‘source’ said:

‘Mr Corbyn was referring to both Jewish and non-Jewish activists[my bold] in a speech about the need to better teach the history of the Israel-Palestine conflict and the brutality of colonialism, occupation and partition.’

In other words, ‘when he said ‘Zionists’, oh no, he didn’t mean ‘Jews’ ‘

Sorry but it won’t wash. There was only one ‘Zionist’ there who ‘berated’ Hassassian ….and he isn’t an Amish or a Buddhist.

So what happened at that meeting on 15 January 2013? What did Hassassian say that caused Richard to ‘berate’ him at the end of the meeting? (Btw Richard ‘debates’, he doesn’t ‘berate’, much as Corbyn wants to use pejorative words about ‘Zionists’). Well fortunately we have Richard’s blog:

We, the Palestinians, the most highly educated and intellectual in the Middle East, are still struggling for the basic right of self-determination. What an irony. How long are we going to suffer and be patient with Israel? You know I’m reaching the conclusion that the Jews are the children of God, the only children of God and the Promised Land is being paid by God![my bold] I have started to believe this because nobody is stopping Israel building its messianic dream of Eretz Israel to the point I believe that maybe God is on their side. Maybe God is partial on this issue.”

Hassassian was saying that G-d funds the ‘Promised Land’ specifically for Jews and no other. If it’s antisemitic to suggest that Jews control the Federal Reserve Board, how much more so is it to suggest that Jews also control the chequebook of the Almighty? And then we get the reference to the supposed ‘messianic dream of Eretz Israel’. Jews are not satisfied with the current land area of Israel, they want the whole area ‘from the river to the sea’, driving out all others. Another deeply antisemitic reference.

But Jeremy Corbyn is as incapable of seeing the antisemitism as a blind man is incapable of seeing the sunrise. He is blind to antisemitism, unless it comes wrapped in a blackshirt or a swastika, with knuckledusters. Unless it’s in Cable Street on 4 October 1936. And that is the problem. Even if you don’t ‘get’ antisemitism, can you seriously vote for someone as Prime Minister who refuses to ‘get’ it, or more likely is incapable of doing so? Yet who still insists he is an antiracist and whose core supporters doggedly persist in saying the same thing?

And I have news for you Jeremy. When the National Anthem is sung, we English Zionists sing too ….

Irony’s a bitch isn’t it?