Corbyn loses Labor Party's leadership due to refusal to continue opposing Israeli lobby

April 13, 2020 - 11:54

Jeremy Corbyn lost the leadership of the Britain's Labor Party to his rival Keir Starmer last week after he avoid defending himself against the Israeli lobby, a senior investigating journalist underscored in his article.       

Asa Winstanley, who writes about Palestine and the Middle East, wrote in his article in the Middle East Monitor, " In the reams of post-mortems that have already been written on Corbyn’s political career, many have examined this question. But very few have acknowledged a major facet of Corbyn’s defeat, if not the greatest factor of all – Corbyn’s refusal to fight the Israel lobby."

"So that’s it. Jeremy Corbyn is out. Not with a bang, but with a whimper," he went on to say.

"With the media’s attention rightly focused on the coronavirus pandemic, coverage of Corbyn’s departure as Labor leader last weekend was muted,' he further said.

In truth, the die had already been cast the moment Corbyn announced, after December’s election result, that he would be stepping down.

For all his flaws, Corbyn and the popular movement behind him represented the single best chance for radical change in this country for a generation. Now, all that is gone, and this is a moment of woe.

This marks the end of an era in British politics – and, indeed in world politics.

Corbyn represented a serious challenge to 40 years of neoliberal consensus among political leaders in the West. In that respect, even in defeat, he has had some success. The national narrative has changed irrevocably – austerity has been utterly defeated.

It is now quite unimaginable for a British politician to talk about cuts to public services, especially to the National Health Service.

Corbyn played a pivotal role in bringing about change to the way politics is talked about in this country.

But let’s not beat about the bush, Corbyn lost the election in December. There’s no avoiding that fact, and it was a serious defeat for the left.

Over the course of five years, the Israel lobby, in alliance with Labor's own right-wing, relentlessly smeared and defamed Corbyn and his movement as anti-Semites.

This is a decades-old strategy employed by Israel and its lobbyists, which they continue to use because it continues to work.

Corbyn, unfortunately, had no strategy to counter this. Instead, betrayed by even some on the Labor left over the issue, he eventually began to concede.

He reluctantly indulged the smears, repeatedly apologizing for anti-Semitism in Labor, when in fact it was virtually non-existent – as all empirical polling data showed time and time again.

These apologies were to no avail. The Israel lobby always demands more. They wanted him out, and they continued the defamation campaign until the bitter end.

A leader from one such pro-Israel group boasted in a bizarre video rant over the Christmas holidays last year, that they had “slaughtered” Corbyn.

“We defeated him,” proudly announced Joe Glasman of the so-called Campaign Against Antisemitism. “They tried to kill us,” he ranted, but “we won.” The Campaign Against Antisemitism is very misleadingly named. A more accurate title would be The Campaign Against Palestinians.

Despite his lies about Labor anti-Semitism, Glasman was correct in one aspect: the Israel lobby did defeat Corbyn.

The success of the “Labor anti-Semitism crisis” smear campaign will have to be faced by the British left if they ever want to succeed in changing the country.

It is not the case that the Israel lobby is all-powerful in objective terms – it is not, and that is the tragedy of the situation. If Corbyn had truly fought them, they would have crumbled.

Instead, he stood by, as good socialists and anti-racists like Ken Livingstone, Marc Wadsworth, Jackie Walker, and Chris Williamson were purged from the party.

He even failed to stop Labor adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s appalling redefinition of anti-Semitism – which deliberately conflates Palestine solidarity campaigning with anti-Jewish racism.

Polling by Lord Ashcroft after the general election indicated that the smear campaign was indeed successful. It was one of the top five reasons that voters had turned against Corbyn, after his major advances in the 2017 election.

That poll also showed that almost three-quarters of Labor's membership thought that the anti-Semitism crisis had been “invented or wildly exaggerated”. The same figure was 92 percent among Momentum members.

If only Corbyn and his team had listened to his own members, instead of attempting to embrace his own most bitter enemies within the party, especially such internal Labor pro-Israel elements such as the Jewish Labor Movement and right-wing MP Margaret Hodge, the whole story would be different.

If the British left hopes to avoid Corbyn’s fate in the future, they will have to learn this harsh lesson: never make concessions to the Israel lobby. It will never be enough, so they would be better served to reject their demands outright.

Winstanley also wrote in The Electronic Intifada that Starmer won the membership election to succeed left-winger and Palestine solidarity veteran Jeremy Corbyn last weekend.

Starmer's first act as leader had been to declare the party’s allegiance to the Israel lobby, and to signal an impending purge of the left-wing of the party members under the pretext of combating “Labor anti-Semitism.

Throughout his four and a half years as Labor leader, Corbyn was incessantly defamed with a manufactured anti-Semitism crisis by the Israel lobby and by the right-wing of his own party.

“Anti-Semitism has been a stain on our party,” Starmer claimed in his victory speech at the time, giving full credence to the smears against his predecessor.

“On behalf of the Labor Party, I am sorry,” Starmer added.

Labor lawmakers – who are overwhelmingly right wing – never accepted the result of the democratic leadership election which brought Corbyn to national prominence in 2015, and repeatedly attempted to overthrow him.

They finally succeeded last December. After the party’s defeat in the general election, Corbyn announced he would be stepping down.

Polling suggested that the Labor anti-Semitism smear campaign had a major impact on the general election outcome.

The Israel lobby was jubilant, with one major group gloating that they had “slaughtered” Corbyn.

But Labor members never accepted the false narrative.

“Invented or wildly exaggerated”

A major poll after the general election found that almost three-quarters of them thought the crisis had been “invented or wildly exaggerated.”

The figure was even higher – 92 percent – among members of Momentum, the party faction founded to back Corbyn.

Starmer in his speech paid tribute to Corbyn as his “friend” and promised to unite the party.

But he immediately followed with his comments about anti-Semitism, meaning the apology amounted to a swipe at Corbyn and the left-wing grassroots membership that brought him to power.

“I will tear out this poison by its roots,” Starmer said, “and judge success by the return of our Jewish members and those who felt that they could no longer support us.”

That statement erases the many Jewish members who remained loyal to the party, and who have spoken out consistently against the campaign to weaponize anti-Semitism to oust Corbyn and crush solidarity for Palestinian rights.

Starmer’s declaration of allegiance to the Israel lobby was the only statement of substance in his pre-recorded victory speech.

Since then – despite the global coronavirus pandemic and millions of newly unemployed – he has made reassuring the Israel lobby his number one priority.

The very same day, Starmer wrote to the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, an Israel lobby group which had been vehemently anti-Corbyn, repeating his apology.

He also reiterated an earlier commitment to a list of demands by the Board of Deputies that the new leader should purge the party membership.

“Within hours of the result, Keir Starmer called me to discuss anti-Jewish hate in the Labor Party,” wrote former Labor lawmaker Ruth Smeeth, in a Times of Israel blog post.

A former professional Israel lobbyist, Smeeth has been one of Corbyn’s bitterest opponents.

On Tuesday, Starmer wrote another simpering apology to the Israel lobby, published in both the Evening Standard and the anti-Palestinian newspaper, The Jewish Chronicle.

“Once the coronavirus pandemic is over,” he wrote, “I will be closing the Labor Party’s offices for a day and inviting representatives of the Jewish community to come in and facilitate a day’s training for all members of staff on anti-Semitism.”

Even under Corbyn, Labor adopted a misleading and politically motivated redefintion of anti-Semitism which deliberately conflates Palestine solidarity activism with anti-Jewish racism.

The Board of Deputies’ demands included the stipulation that training on anti-Semitism in the party be run only by the Jewish Labor Movement and not “fringe organizations” – a veiled reference to left-wing pro-Corbyn group, Jewish Voice for Labor.

Founded in 2004, the Jewish Labor Movement had been a moribund group but was resurrected by pro-Israel activists in September 2015, specifically to fight Corbyn.

The Jewish Labor Movement worked in close coordination with the Israeli embassy.

It played a leading role in promoting the Labor anti-Semitism smear campaign.

Starmer held a virtual meeting on Tuesday with leaders of the UK’s top pro-Israel groups, including the Jewish Labor Movement, the Board of Deputies, the Community Security Trust and the Jewish Leadership Council.

The lobbyists came out of this meeting singing Starmer’s praises.

But other Israel lobby factions will not be satisfied by the victory over Corbyn.

The badly misnamed Campaign Against Antisemitism (which is actually a campaign against Palestinians) has decreed that the “real litmus test” for the new Labor leader will be “disciplining Jeremy Corbyn.”

“Corbyn must be made to bear personal responsibility,” the group wrote. “This will send a message to other culpable MPs, officials and members that they cannot hide.”

Starmer’s declarations of loyalty to Zionism are for some only a starter.

Labor's new leader will soon learn the lesson that Corbyn did not heed: No amount of capitulation to the pro-Israel lobby can ever be enough.

These implacable foes of basic human rights and dignity for the Palestinian people take every concession as an invitation to demand more.

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