Strange Bedfellows

Hezbollah’s Man in London: The Improbable Rise of Wild-Eyed Jeremy Corbyn

The British left has a lot to answer for. The Labour Party’s long-shot leadership candidate, Jeremy Corbyn, embodies the worst of it.

Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty

Few people outside Britain have heard of Jeremy Corbyn. Even here in his hometown of London, otherwise well-informed citizens have spent fulfilled and productive lives in ignorance of his existence. Corbyn’s campaign to become leader of the UK’s opposition Labour party is worth noticing, however – and dissecting too. It reveals the double standards of much of the rich world’s left.

Corbyn is not a wholly wicked man. Often, he is a tireless fighter against every form of injustice. No reduction in public expenditure or cut in welfare escapes his notice. He never has a good word to say about any commercial enterprise or Western government. This may sound biased, but as corporations are often crooked and governments often corrupt, the prejudice is hardly a hanging offense.

It is impossible to imagine him leading Labour to victory, which is why right-wing Brits are paying £3 ($5) to register as Labour supporters and vote for him in the leadership primary. But if you are homeless and in need of a bed, or your employer is threatening to sack you, or you cannot afford to feed your children, Corbyn is on your side. He has a purity and certainty his rivals, who must deal with the messy business of governing, cannot hope to match.

But then comes the rub. The tribune of the left, the indomitable defender of equality and decency, is also the greatest apologist for clerical fascism in the British parliament.

Corbyn indulges radical Islam, and by extension all that comes with it: the subjugation of women; the judicial murder of homosexuals in compliance with sharia law; the racism, most evident in its anti-Semitic conspiracy theories; the denial of democratic rights, the demand to create a global caliphate must bring; and the denial of religious freedom the sharia-prescribed death penalties for blasphemy and apostasy do bring with miserable regularity.

Islamism is against everything the left pretends to believe in. But in Britain and elsewhere, leftists rather than conservatives are the first to defend it.

Jeremy Corbyn led the campaign to support Raed Salah, the know-nothing, fatwa-jabbering leader of Israel’s Islamic Movement. Salah has bigotries that go back centuries, as he proved when an Israeli court found him guilty of propagating the medieval European myth that Jews baked bread with the blood of children. Without waiting for the dust to settle in the autumn on 2001, he implied that 9/11 was an inside job—carried out by Jews, naturally, who had warned their co-religionists to get out of the World Trade Center before the planes hit. He was last seen predicting that “Inshallah, Jerusalem will soon become the capital of the global caliphate,” which will end the injustice of “America, the Zionist enterprise, the Batiniyya, reactionism, Paganism and the Crusaders”—which means, if I may translate, a caliphate that will turn on the West, Jews, Christians, Sufi and Shi’a Muslims, and anyone else who does not comply with his version of Sunni Islam.

Yet when the British government tried to deport Salah, Corbyn did not join it in opposing a theocratic thug. He invited him for tea instead, and went along with Salah’s lawyer, who blamed yet another Jewish conspiracy for his client’s misfortunes.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has caused many to lose their wits and forget about the distinction between anti-Jewish prejudice and opposition to the Israeli occupation. But even if you allow the supposedly anti-racist Corbyn that feeble excuse you cannot explain why he announced that it was “my pleasure and my honour” to welcome representatives of Hezbollah to Britain. The goose-stepping Shia militia specializes in slaughtering Sunni Muslims, and was helping Assad tyrannize his enemies in Syria long before the arrival of Islamic State.

None of the above harms Corbyn’s career. On the British, European, and (from what I have seen of it) American left, “progressive” politics and reactionary religion make snug bedfellows—if, that is, the religious reactionaries are anti-western. Islamist attitudes to women, gays, religious minorities, free thinkers, trade unionists, leftists, democrats, and liberals don’t concern them at all. Islamists are against the West and that’s all that matters.

I am not just talking about the far left. Corbyn is only in the contest because sober Labour politicians from the respectable centre-left put him there. He needed their support because the parliamentary far left is tiny in Britain. It could not provide the necessary 35 MPs to nominate Corbyn as a candidate for the Labour leadership. “Inclusive” moderates filled the gap, and voted for his candidature, sweetly saying that they wanted everyone to be “part of the process.”

The usual low motives hid behind the high words. Politicians who wanted the Labour nomination for the London mayor election thought they might win left-wing support if they did Corbyn a favor. Politicians with a grudge against the party hierarchy settled a score by supporting him too.

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You can wonder about the sanity of a political party that bends over backwards to draft an extremist MP and present him to the public as a potential leader. But what cannot be denied is that support for radical Islamism does not get you expelled from the left. If Corbyn apologized for neo-Nazis with near identical views to Raed Salah, or some kind of Ku Klux Klan-style militia that matched Hezbollah goose step for goose step, the left would excommunicate him. As it is, in Britain, Europe, and by the look of it the States too you can be an admired leftist, while going along with every vile and murderous movement.

Although it doesn't know it yet, the left is paying a price. Europe’s Jews are everywhere giving up on left-wing politics as they smell old hatreds in new forms. As interesting are the attitudes of my left-wing Muslim and ex-Muslim friends. Like Ayaan Hirsi Ali before them, they have to live with white racist prejudice and the threats of patriarchal families and clerics. The left ought to supply them with friends and comrades. But when, like Hirsi Ali, they find that the left will abandon them, and tell them that it is their culture to be oppressed, and “Islamophobic” to want equality, they head rightwards.

Joining them are the mass of European voters. I could give you a dozen reasons why right-wing parties are winning elections everywhere here. But one ought to be obvious. Politically correct left-wingers say they believe in equality for women and gays. Everyone must agree with them apart from protected religious leaders, who can be as misogynist and homophobic as they please.

The voters look on with jaundiced eyes. They mutter that political correctness is a sham and the left is filled with the most brazen hypocrites. The worst of it is, they are right.