It recently came to light that Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party in the United Kingdom, was a member of at least one closed Facebook group where antisemitic rhetoric and hatred, including the most ridiculous assertions based on the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion and other such bunkum, was liberally purveyed.
David Collier, an independent British researcher, released an in-depth analysis of the kind of content that appeared in the group to which Corbyn and other leading Labour activists belonged. Members of the group routinely threw around phrases like “Jewnazi” and “Zionazi.” Members posted articles about the “Rothschild Empire,” the “Zionist agenda and New World Order” and “Jewish organ trafficking,” the latter, as the title implies, being a modern incarnation of blood libel.
About Mein Kampf, one poster urged: “Everybody should be forced to read it, especially Jews who have their own agenda as to why they were not liked.” Members have claimed that Hitler “supported Zionism” and that the Holocaust is being exploited so that Jews can oppress others – all the while shielding themselves with the assertion that “criticizing Israel isn’t the same as antisemitism.”
When caught, Corbyn, who has called Hamas and Hezbollah “friends,” defended his online association with antisemitism by saying, “Had I seen [evidence of antisemitism], of course, I would have challenged it straight away, but I actually don’t spend all my time reading social media.” In fact, even the most cursory glance at the page would indicate this is a site with which no legitimate public figure should be associated.
An older incident was made public about the same time, in which Corbyn defended the artist in a case where a local government opted to paint over an overtly antisemitic mural on a public wall. Later, Corbyn would claim he hadn’t really looked at the mural, which clearly depicts stereotypically Jewish looking men divvying up money on the backs of the oppressed, while the symbol of the Illuminati, a figment of the antisemitic movement’s imagination, hovers above them.
The fact that overt antisemitism, which has existed in the Labour Party for some time, has finally had a bright light shone on it, has brought some surprising reactions. Some MPs and other Labour activists have called for MPs who attended a rally against antisemitism to be blackballed from the party. You read that right.
Those whose dogged campaigning has brought the unseemly underbelly of antisemitism on the British left to light seem to now face the daunting task of ensuring that the blame for the problem – and the task of fixing it – falls to the perpetrators, not the victims.