Boris Johnson condemned for attacking Jeremy Corbyn on antisemitism but meeting alt-right figure Steve Bannon

Ex-foreign secretary accused of 'courting those who have enabled right wing antisemitism to seep into the mainstream'


Boris Johnson has been condemned for attacking Jeremy Corbyn’s approach to antisemitism, while meeting Steve Bannon, the far-right former chief of staff to Donald Trump accused of encouraging Jew-hate.

In an article for the Telegraph, the former foreign secretary condemned the Labour leader for his approach to antisemitism within his own party and his unwillingness to adopt the full International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.

“There is clearly something about the wording that sticks in Corbyn’s craw. What is it?” Mr Johnson wrote.

“It seems, incredibly, that Corbyn really does dispute their examples of antisemitic behaviour. In a nutshell, the IHRA says that it would be hurtful and antisemitic to claim that the state of Israel is a ‘racist endeavour’; or to draw comparisons between Israeli policy and Nazi Germany. Corbyn thinks it should be acceptable to say both.”

But the Jewish Labour Movement called out Mr Johnson's hypocrisy after it was reported he was in "direct contact" with Mr Bannon, who has praised Mr Johnson as a potential prime minister.

JLM chair Ivor Caplin told the JC: “It appears Boris Johnson has a distinct lack of understanding of logic.

“Antisemitism exists on the left and on the right. He’d be better placed to criticise Labour’s appalling handling of its antisemitism crisis if he was not courting those who have enabled right wing antisemitism to seep into the mainstream.”

Mr Johnson reportedly met with Steve Bannon last week during the latter's visit to London. 

Mr Bannon used to be the editor of Breitbart, a far-right news site. During his tenure, the site ran a number of articles using antisemitic language to criticise prominent Jews. Bill Kristol, a Jewish conservative writer, was labelled a “renegade Jew”, while Anne Applebaum, the Jewish writer and historian, was described as helping to further “attempts to impose a globalist worldview on citizenries that reject it… hell hath no fury like a Polish, Jewish, American elitist scorned.”

In a sworn statement in 2007, Mr Bannon’s ex-wife described a number of antisemitic remarks she said he had made “including that he doesn’t like Jews and that he doesn’t like the way they raise their kids to be ‘whiny brats’.”

A spokesperson for anti-racism charity Hope Not Hate said: “People like Boris Johnson should not be meeting with Steve Bannon. Period. Bannon is a man who told the Front National in France: 'Let them call you racist. Let them call you xenophobes. Let them call you nativists. Wear it as a badge of honor.'

“Bannon is absolutely unabashed about his politics. He said he was ‘thrilled’ and ‘proud’ when Donald Trump described white supremacist protesters in Charlottesville as “very fine people.” One of those protestors committed a murder that day.

“When he ran the far-right, fake news-promoting site Breitbart, Bannon specifically said: ‘We are the platform for the alt right.’ Virulent antisemitism has thrived in the dark corners of the alt-right and indeed has been championed by many of its adherents.

“But don’t just take our word for it. The Anti-Defamation League in the USA said: ‘Bannon’s stint at Breitbart positioned him as the chief curator of the alt right. Under his stewardship, Breitbart emerged as the leading source for the extreme views of a vocal minority who peddle bigotry and hate.’

“Why would any mainstream politician want to meet with such a figure?”

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