While Anti-Semitism Flourishes under His Watch, Jeremy Corbyn Refuses to Acknowledge Its Existence

Despite official inquiries, public scandals, and the formal censure of several party activists, anti-Semitism is very much alive and well in the British Labor party; indeed, at its most recent conference, a motion was proposed to question the historicity of the Holocaust. The novelist Howard Jacobson comments on the feeble efforts of Jeremy Corbyn, the party’s leader, to deny anti-Semitism’s presence while insisting that it has nothing to do with “anti-Zionism.”

By way of a sop to critics, a rule warning against such conduct as might be deemed detrimental to the party—such as hostility to disability, gender reassignment, civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, oh, and anti-Semitism—was adopted. But condemnation of Zionism was as febrile as ever and any Jew—particularly any Israeli Jew—willing to join in could count on a standing ovation. No man is a prophet in his own land, but an anti-Zionist Israeli is a hero in this one. . . .

To this, Jeremy Corbyn and those closest to him are tetchily indifferent. Mr. Corbyn goes out of his way not to use the word “anti-Semitism,” and when he is forced into condemnation of it he invokes the platitude that Labor opposes all racism and discrimination. The “all” is important. Burying anti-Semitism among offenses such as bullying and sexual harassment is a dodge to equalize things that are not equal and in the process ensure that anti-Semitism is rarely privileged with a mention of its own.

There is method in this evasiveness. To implicitly deny the existence of anti-Semitism—as some continue to deny the Holocaust—is to render it as a sick fantasy of the Jews’ own making, a pathology whose function is to blunt the edge of the anti-Zionist critique. That Jews invoke anti-Semitism primarily to silence critics of Israel is a tired canard, but it continues to be pressed into service. It serves a purpose: it libels the Jews as liars in the act of protesting innocence of any such offense. And if anti-Semitism is a chimera, then anti-Zionism, so often conflated with it, has nothing after all to apologize for. . . .

What needs to be insisted on is that Zionism—the idea not the political events to which it has given rise—is integral to the Jewish mind and imagination. Those who say they are against Zionism but not Jews are speaking in riddles. It is not the Jew who needs to see himself apart from anti-Zionism; it is the anti-Zionist who needs to ask himself what feeds his fervor.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism, Howard Jacobson, Jeremy Corbyn, Labor Party (UK), Politics & Current Affairs

When It Comes to Syria, Vladimir Putin’s Word Can’t Be Trusted

July 13 2018

In the upcoming summit between the Russian and American presidents in Helsinki, the future of Syria is likely to rank high on the agenda. Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, has already made clear that Moscow won’t demand a complete Iranian withdrawal from the country. Donald Trump, by contrast, has expressed his desire for a complete U.S. withdrawal. Examining Moscow’s track record when it comes to maintaining its past commitments regarding Syria, Eli Lake urges caution:

Secretary of State John Kerry spent his last year in office following Lavrov all over the world in an attempt to create a U.S.-Russian framework for resolving the Syrian civil war. He failed. . . . President Trump [now] wants to get to know Putin better—and gauge his willingness to help isolate Iran. This is a pointless and dangerous gambit. First, by announcing his intention to pull U.S. forces out of the country “very soon,” Trump has already given away much of his leverage within Syria.

Ideally, Trump would want to establish a phased plan with Putin, where the U.S. would make some withdrawals following Iranian withdrawals from Syria. But Trump has already made it clear that prior [stated] U.S. objectives for Syria, such as the removal of the dictator Bashar al-Assad, are no longer U.S. objectives. The U.S. has also declined to make commitments to give money for Syrian reconstruction.

Without any leverage, Trump will have to rely even more on Putin’s word, which is worthless. Putin to this day denies any Russian government role in interfering in the 2016 U.S. election. Just last month, Putin went on Austrian television and lied about his government’s role in shooting down a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine. Why would anyone trust Putin to keep his word to help remove Iran and its proxies from Syria?

And this gets to the most dangerous possible outcome of the upcoming summit. The one thing that Kerry never did was to attempt to trade concessions on Syria for concessions on Crimea, the Ukrainian territory that Russia invaded and annexed in 2014. There was a good reason for this: even if one argues that the future of Ukraine is not a high priority for the U.S., it’s a disastrous precedent to allow one nation to change the boundaries of another through force, and particularly of one that signed an agreement with the U.S., UK, and Russia to preserve its territorial integrity in exchange for relinquishing its cold-war-era nuclear weapons.

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More about: Crimea, Donald Trump, Politics & Current Affairs, Russia, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy, Vladimir Putin