Apathy or Faustian Pact?

BY JAMIE FOSTER

It would appear there is nothing that can be revealed about Jeremy Corbyn that will shake his core support or cause a significant reaction in even the ranks of his political enemies. The news, revealed last week, that he spent two years as a member of the closed Facebook group Palestine Live seems to have provoked no reaction at all anywhere. This is despite the fact that Palestine Live is a hotbed of antisemitism where users use language like ZIoJew and JewNazi. Apparently Corbyn was lauded by members of the group for his engagement and organised events at the House of Commons for members to participate in. And yet no one except Dan Hodges in the Mail on Sunday has even picked up on the true scandal of it.

How does Corbyn get away with it?

His past associations with terrorists of all complexions and his support for enemies of Britain seem to cause him little trouble in the public eye. Now this. Is there something about antisemitism that sets it apart from other types of racism? Any normal politician who was found to have engaged with a racist website would be out on their ear but not Corbyn. It doesn’t even raise an eyebrow. It is as if there is an entire different set of standards that apply to him than apply to anyone else.

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Is it that antisemitism is different, that Corbyn is different or a combination of the two?

Certainly Labour has a problem with antisemitism stemming from its support of radical muslim groups. It hasn’t gone as far as not accepting that antisemitism is an evil in itself. Even Labour recognises that antisemitism is a bad thing, even if it is having trouble with it popping up in its ranks. When Ken Livingstone made his now infamous Hitler and Zionism remarks he was suspended from the Labour Party. So the problem isn’t that no one thinks antisemitism is a bad thing.

Somehow Corbyn gets away with it. Why have the massed ranks of the Tory Party not descended on this story and used it to beat Corbyn with? Somehow Corbyn gets away with it. Why does the Labour Party not take steps to deal with antisemitism in its own ranks by calling Corbyn out? Somehow Corbyn gets away with it. What sort of Faustian pact has he entered into that he is able to walk free of stories like these?

So what are we left with? Corbyn hung out on the internet with hard line antisemites for two years. He was praised by them and organised events for them. He was an active participant in a Facebook group in which antisemitism was the norm and no-one is going to do anything about it. Are we really treading a path that could lead to this man entering Number 10? This man who can be held responsible for nothing at all? Can we envisage a future where a British Prime Minister can be someone who made friends with antisemites? It looks like we might have to, as nobody seems to be doing anything to stop it.

How long can Corbyn continue to get away with it? Will he just carry on as leader into the future untroubled by his own misdeeds? Is there anything anyone can dig up about his past that would actually cause us to pause and realise the man is not fit to lead a national political party? This story raises more questions than it answers. Somehow the reason is because straight answers don’t stick to Corbyn.

Perhaps part of the answer, shamefully, is that there are not enough Jewish voters to count. If there were many more of them maybe this story would be seen in a different light. Maybe if politicians needed the Jewish vote to get elected people would take it more seriously. Because at the moment no one feels the weight of the Jewish vote on their shoulder. It is as if they are too small a minority to count in the rush for minority votes.

Whatever the reason this is a shameful moment in Labour history. Their leader is shown to be someone who was happy to spend time with people for whom antisemitism is an acceptable pastime. Even if nobody wants to make a fuss, it is still worth noting.

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