Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Jeremy Corbyn and Hezbollah

Jeremy Corbyn has never been shy of his long-standing support for the Palestinian cause. He is a patron of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and regularly talks at pro-Palestinian rallies. This association, however, seems to be coming back to haunt him somewhat.

About a month ago he was asked on Channel 4 News about a video in which he spoke of "our friends from Hezbollah" and "friends from Hamas". During the questioning he got quite angry but went on to say that he used the term in a "collective way" but that he does not agree with either Hamas or Hezbollah.

This week, the Daily Mail reported that Corbyn had written a letter of support on behalf of Rev Stephen Sizer who had posted links to antisemitic material on his facebook page. Rev Sizer posted a link to an article entitled "9/11 Israel did it" and commented "Is this antisemitic?...It raises so many questions." This, of course, was not the only time Rev Sizer had done something like this and many similar examples can be seen in this article by Daphne Anson.

According to the Daily Mail, Corbyn wrote to Church authorities claiming that:
"Reverend Stephen Sizer seems to have come under attack by certain individuals intent on discrediting the excellent work that Stephen does in highlighting the injustices of the Palestinian Israeli situation."
In the same article Corbyn's links to Paul Eisen's Deir Yassin Remembered organisation is discussed. Eisen is an avowed Holocaust denier writing:
"I question that there ever existed homicidal gas-chambers… Deny the Holocaust! For my money, a child of six can see that something's not right about the Holocaust narrative... For me, "Holocaust Denier" is a label I accept."
According to the Daily Mail article, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign disowned the group in 2007. But this is actually not true. Tony Greenstein tabled a motion at their 2007 AGM calling for such a move on the basis of DYR's antisemitism but the motion was actually rejected. Corbyn's office rejected any connection between Corbyn and Eisen but would not comment on the claim that Corbyn donated money to Eisen or that he attended their events. He was also not available to comment on his connections with Rev Sizer.

In my opinion the question of donating money to DYR in its early days is not relevant. At that time nobody knew it would become a vehicle for antisemitism and Holocaust denial. But what cannot be denied is that Jeremy Corbyn's involvement with the pro-Palestinian movement has brought him into close contact with some unsavoury characters.

His endorsement of Rev Sizer is not a one-off. In 2012 Corbyn was one of the main speakers at the Al Quds Day rally in London. One of the other main speakers was, of course, Rev Sizer. For many years now, the rally has been a vehicle for support of Hezbollah. From at least 2006 these rallies have featured Hezbollah flags and placards declaring "We are all Hezbollah". 2012 was no exception as pictures from the organisers and others show.

In fact, here is Jeremy Corbyn himself posing in front of a Hezbollah flag at the 2012 rally:
Jeremy Corbyn poses in front of a Hezbollah flag

He says he does not agree with what Hezbollah do but he certainly seems to have no problem associating with those who do.

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