Tom Bower

Revealed: day when Corbyn sat in front of a microphone and gave the game away

Tom Bower uncovers the roots of Corbyn's antisemitism

February 21, 2019 10:13

Unearthing the source and nature of Jeremy Corbyn’s antisemitism particularly interested me while researching Dangerous Hero, the biography of Mr Corbyn which has just been published.

As the child of refugees from Hitler — from Prague and Vienna — I was the first after 1977 to establish in BBC TV documentaries and in books the Allied failure in post-war West Germany to hunt down Nazi war criminals and the intentional reinstatement of incriminated Nazis into power.

I am among the few living people who interviewed for TV serious Nazi war criminals, among them Gustav Wagner who ran the Sobibor extermination camp and murdered 250,000 Jews; Ernst Heinrichsohn who supervised the deportation of 79,000 Jews from Paris to Auschwitz; Herbert Hagen, the SS officer who sailed with Adolf Eichmann to Palestine in 1937 and planned the Final Solution — and many more.

Like those antisemitic Nazis, Mr Corbyn blames the malign power of Jews for orchestrating a global conspiracy to oppress the workers. “The power of the Israel lobby is truly phenomenal,” Mr Corbyn said in 2003 to Hamas supporters, referring to his conviction that rich Jewish bankers, especially in New York, are orchestrating Zionist influence.

Ever since Mr Corbyn was elected Labour’s leader in 2015, he has faced accusations about his antisemitism, which he has denied. However, while researching the book I came across an interview he gave in September 2015 which confirms Mr Corbyn’s antisemitism.

Unsuspecting, Mr Corbyn had settled down in front of a microphone to help a local historian compile eyewitness accounts for The Holloway Project. Mr Corbyn was asked to describe his attachment to the Holloway Road, an ugly highway running through Islington, his north London constituency. But before identifying his favourite places along that dust bowl, he described his early life and, most noteworthy, his first job in London in 1973 as an assistant researcher at the National Union of Tailor and Garment Workers.

In Mr Corbyn’s version, as the most junior employee he personally challenged the Jewish employers of his members — “scumbags” and “crooks”, as he would describe the tailors — to recover the members’ unpaid wages. Their bosses, explained Mr Corbyn, “had mysteriously gone bankrupt just before Christmas, owing their workers a lot of wages and not paying National Insurance and all this kind of thing. Scumbags actually. Crooks. My job was to try and chase these people through Companies House and so on.”

Mr Corbyn’s account is contradicted by Alec Smith, the union’s former leader and Mr Corbyn’s direct superior, now in his eighties, who I tracked down in Essex, and by the trade union’s well-catalogued records.

Pertinently, the union’s archives stored at universities in London and Manchester do not reveal any issues about “unscrupulous employers” and do not show that any member complained about being unpaid, especially before Christmas.

Mr Smith told me with certainty that Mr Corbyn “never had any contact with our members. He just sat in at meetings passing me information”. Mr Smith recalled: “The clothing industry is a tough business. If an employer went broke it was because of trading conditions — not to fiddle their employees.”

Not for the first time, Mr Corbyn had reshaped the truth to improve his self-image. He conjured the tale of a brave personal fight against exploitative Jewish employers of sweatshop labour and exposed his disdain towards those Jews seeking self-improvement to fulfil the dream of moving from the East End slums to North London’s suburbs.

Mr Corbyn’s antisemitism became evident to Jane Chapman, his first wife, after they married in 1974. Both were newly elected Haringey councillors. Uneducated and uninterested in culture and anything spiritual, Mr Corbyn, as a committed communist, was unsympathetic towards a race complicated by its history of survival over 2,000 years of persecution.

Ms Chapman represented a ward in Stamford Hill which she shared with Aaron Weischelbaum, a Jewish councillor. Her husband, she told me, refused to meet Mr Weischelbaum or her constituents, mostly Orthodox Jews, the backbone of the Labour party in the area. “Jeremy,” she explained, “was conflicted because he supported Palestine and the abolition of Israel so that Palestinians could recover their homes.”

Mr Corbyn defined Zionism as racism and accused white Jews of acting as supremacists, oppressing coloured Arabs in what he called “Israel’s apartheid occupation” of Palestine. He condemned the Balfour Declaration, the British government’s promise in 1917 of a homeland for Jews, and dismissed the effect of the Holocaust to explain the Jewish people’s longing for a return to their own country after 1945 to avoid future persecution.

Mr Corbyn preferred to ignore that Israel was created by the United Nations and fulfilled all the legal requirements for international recognition. Pertinently, he never complained about the simultaneous creation of Pakistan in 1948, where partition of the sub-continent had caused millions of deaths and led to the persecution of Hindus by the new Muslim state.

In Mr Corbyn’s hierarchy of oppression, the descendants of slaves were the most victimised, while Holocaust survivors were at the bottom of the list. He did not distinguish between Jews in London and Zionists in Tel Aviv. To him, they were all guilty.

An original source of Mr Corbyn’s antisemitism in the 1960s, I discovered, was Malcolm X, the American black power leader of the Nation of Islam movement, which he encountered in Jamaica in 1968. “I spent two years in Jamaica”, he always says, describing his teenage employment as a teacher in Kingston on Voluntary Service Overseas starting in 1967 as his most formative period.

But during a trip to Jamaica, I discovered that was untrue. He had left the island after 17 months telling the school and others that he was returning to Britain. Instead, he sailed to Guyana and what followed there remains a mystery, although he was probably immersed in a local Marxist group. Karl Marx’s essay, ‘On the Jewish Question’, written in 1843, is the philosophical foundation of the far left’s antisemitism. Jews, Marx believed, were financial exploiters who should abandon their separate identity.

Mr Corbyn’s antisemitism simmered unseen, even after he was elected as an MP in 1983, until the Islamist attack on New York on September 11 2001. In the aftermath, he organised with fellow communists the Stop the War Coalition (SWC), ostensibly to protest against the American invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Mr Corbyn’s partner in SWC was the Muslim Association of Great Britain. This group was attached to the Muslim Brotherhood. Some on the left questioned the coalition of Marxists with political Islamists but Mr Corbyn successfully argued that the alliance was forged by a mutual opposition to Zionism.

Thereafter, during protest marches through London, banners against the war would be given equal billing to the Muslim Association’s placards urging the destruction of Israel. The two, said the Muslim organisers, were linked: Zionists were planning the imminent invasion of Iraq. Mr Corbyn agreed.

Thereafter, Mr Corbyn frequently associated with Muslim extremists who advocated in antisemitic language Israel’s destruction. Speaking on the same platforms with the extremists, he appeared to share his hosts’ refusal to distinguish between anti-Zionism and antisemitism.

Bravely, Labour MP Dame Louise Ellman, stood out alone after 2001 among Jewish MPs protesting about his overt prejudice. “I was regarded as a freak,” she told me, clearly distressed about the abuse she received even while walking around Westminster. Only after Mr Corbyn became Labour’s leader in 2015 and the far left’s entrenched antisemitism became increasingly exposed by the media, did other MPs relieve Dame Louise’s isolation.

Even then, she was unaware of Mr Corbyn’s expression of sympathy in 2012 to Kalen Ockerman, an American artist known as Mear One, after his blatantly antisemitic mural depicting caricatures of blood-sucking Jewish bankers playing Monopoly on the backs of naked black people, was removed by Tower Hamlet’s Council. “I didn’t notice the antisemitism,” Mr Corbyn later told Luciana Berger.

Disingenuously, Mr Corbyn has replied to every exposure of his close relationship with antisemites with a denial, until photographs or film exposes his untruth.

That exposure in 2018 was the turning point for many Jews. Labour had become a stronghold of their persecutors. They could not pass unchallenged. The tragic lesson of the Holocaust had been the folly of Europe’s Jews to comply with German orders. Without resistance, they had walked into the ghettos then obediently boarded trucks and trains for transport to their destruction. Since then, Israel’s survival against Arab invasions had shown that Jews were not weaklings or cowards. British Jews must show the same resilience.

In his ambition to transform Britain into a communist society based on equality of poverty rather than equality of opportunity, Mr Corbyn plans to confiscate individual wealth. Among the victims of Mr Corbyn’s comrades would be Jews, doubly damned by their association with Israel and their personal ambition. Mr Corbyn, the champion of losers, reserves a special fate for the “Zionists” who he sniffed “don’t understand English irony”.


Tom Bower is an investigative journalist


February 21, 2019 10:13

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