New developments in Europe, Israel and Persian Gulf
Dec 18, 2019 | AIJAC staff
Update from AIJAC
This Update takes readers around the world, to the UK, Israel and Iran, catching up on recent news and developments on three different news fronts: the British elections; the dissolution of the 22nd Knesset, putting Israel on the road to a third election in a year; while China is preparing to participate in joint military exercises with Iran and Russia.
In Great Britain, the Labour party under Jeremy Corbyn has suffered its worst electoral defeat in decades, while the Conservatives made history, receiving swings of 10-15% from the main opposition across swathes of constituencies after nine years in power. Labour’s Columnist Zoe Strimpel from the UK’s Telegraph writes that while the reasons for Corbyn’s thumping were many, his failure to take strong enough steps to root out antisemitism within the party ranks among them. The stage, she says, is set for Jews to be blamed for Labour’s poor showing, and in fact, judging by post-election comments by former London mayor Ken Livingstone and social media posts by Labour activists, it has already begun. For more by Strimpel, CLICK HERE.
Meanwhile, in Israel, Times of Israel editor David Horovitz takes issue with the assumption among Israelis that a third election within a year, scheduled for March 2, is entirely bad news for the country. While acknowledging the immense cost the country is shouldering for the political paralysis and unnecessary elections, Horovitz notes that the first two elections took place under the backdrop of uncertainty about the future of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s corruption cases that added to voter confusion. Following the decision of Attorney General Avichai Mandelbit to indict Netanyahu, Horovitz writes, the upcoming election will be held with voters “better equipped to make an informed decision” about who should lead the country, which may lead to a more decisive result. For more on Horovitz’ reasoning, CLICK HERE.
Finally, writing for the Asia-Pacific current affairs website The Diplomat, Lucille Greer, a Schwarzman Fellow at the Wilson Center’s Kissinger Institute on China and the United States, looks at the implications of China joining Iran and Russia in joint naval exercises starting on December 27. Greer writes that, while Iran clearly needs the military cooperation more than China does, it does give China an opportunity to increase its influence in the Middle East, something which is becoming increasingly important on China’s foreign agenda as further evidenced by news reports that China is considering working with the Assad regime to help rebuild Syria. For more insights by Greer, CLICK HERE.
Readers may also be interested in…
- Prof. Efraim Inbar and other analysts from the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security give their strategic forecast for the threats facing Israel in 2020.
- Looking at the prospects for a Palestinian election, Anshel Pfeffer surmises that both the PA and Hamas are not serious, knowing that Israel is unlikely to allow east Jerusalem Palestinians to participate, particularly at this time.
- In the aftermath of the move to new Israeli elections, Israel Hayom interviews former Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked.
- Writing even before the December 10 attack on a New Jersey kosher supermarket, New York Times columnist Bari Weiss warned that the world is not taking deadly antisemitism seriously enough.
- In a letter to a US Congressman, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended his statement about the legality of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
- Journalist Justin Rohrlich looks at how Iran smuggles contraband-like aeroplane parts into their country.
- Following Boris Johnson’s win in the UK elections, his government is expected to pass an anti-BDS law.
- A selection of articles from the January 2020 edition of the Australia/Israel Review are now becoming available on AIJAC’s website, including Shmuel Rosner’s look at the circumstances that have deadlocked Israeli politics for the past year.
I’m delighted Corbynism was defeated – but ready for ‘Blame the Jews’, round two
When Jeremy Corbyn became leader of his party in 2015, as both a Jew and a liberal I felt queasy with a foreboding that did not abate until 10pm on Thursday, when the exit polls pointed to the wholesale rejection by the great British electorate of his nasty, regressive and antisemitic version of Labour.
The blazing, unequivocal triumph of the exit poll and the sight of John McDonnell tersely, and not without dignity, agreeing with Andrew Neil that Labour had suffered a total, catastrophic defeat was worth thousands of pounds of therapy.
So was the vision of the courageous and beautiful Countdown star, Rachel Riley – an outspoken critic of Corbynite anti-Semitism, who has been subject to the grimmest abuse for insisting on the moral rot of his leadership – glowing and Tweeting her joy at the outcome. Her simple message: “Love You Britain” was perfect.
Yet the sense of having excised a monster wasn’t entirely pleasant – it was a reminder not only of how low politics had sunk for three long years, but also of how many dreadful Corbynites are still around. True to form, the recriminations of the hard Left began right away – only directed at everyone but themselves.
First they blamed the voters, who had stupidly clung on to to the desire to dispatch Brexit and therefore broken party unity. “I’m so, so sorry guys,” tweeted Labour activist and columnist Owen Jones to his 938,300 followers. “Brexit just smashed us. Keeping together an electoral coalition of Remainers and Leavers as the country bitterly divided just became impossible.”
Labour’s bizarre policy of neutrality over Brexit certainly backfired. Driven on by its core elite of metropolitan activists, it opted for spinelessness and flim-flam over clear voter desire and was punished accordingly. But the reflex to blame Brexit voters, many of whom live in former Labour heartlands, rather than to look to itself and its leader for the worst defeat since 1935, was comically on brand.
The “so sorry guys, don’t blame us, blame Brexit” simpering soon gave way, however, to the sinister, closed-ranks huddle of leader-worship, with inner circlers refusing to acknowledge the real problem.
When Ed Miliband suffered a defeat less catastrophic than this in 2015, he immediately fell on his sword, vowing to take full responsibility. One might have thought that having brought about the virtual destruction of the Labour party would have forced even Corbyn and his accolytes to take a similar stand. No such luck: the party faithful demonstrated a pathological refusal to engage in self-reflection and criticism, and the end of the night saw Corbyn still in place as leader, presiding over a period of ‘reflection’.
One thing the party has been particularly resistant to comprehending is its problem with Jews. If it disregarded and despised us before, then now, in the wake of defeat, its animosity, conspiracy theories and insults are even more pronounced.
Ken Livingstone, long-time friend and associate of Corbyn’s, set the tone when he noted that “The Jewish vote wasn’t very helpful.” Sorry Ken, after years of anti-Jewish vitriol, we do apologise for not having been of more electoral use to our tormenters.
The Twitter of woke young academics and media types who pride themselves on nuanced understandings of oppressed minorities was another shocking cesspit.
Threads like those of Cambridge don Priyamvada Gopal, one of the academic elite’s most committed woke warriors and Corbyn supporters, were chilling. She accused “people I quite like who are now busy blaming Jeremy Corbyn” of withholding “solidarity in favour of criticism at this crunch time”, and peppered her feed with retweets of dismal, cretinous posts hardly befitting the notice of a semi-literate teenager, let alone an expert in post-colonial theory.
Take for instance, her retweet of this post from Napoleon Snow – a supporter of “freedom for people everywhere”. Snow wrote: “The election taught me we don’t live in a democracy, when that democracy can be hijacked by rich press barons to create a perception of a rabid anti-Semitic monster from a man who’s worked against injustice and poverty his whole life.”
The esteemed Dr Gopal is presumably one of many who agree that honouring the outcome of a democratic vote by another democratic election is evidence that we “don’t live in a democracy”, which we know because “rich press barons” (code for Jews) have “hijacked” the news (ditto), and schemed and schemed (ditto) to manufacture the spectre of antisemitism in order to besmirch the good and true Corbyn (and… ditto).
Thankfully there are people in the civilised Left who are wise to all this and are calling out the emergent backlash against Jews. The writer Sathnam Sangera put it brilliantly in the early hours on Friday: “Small thing for all the people messaging me, telling me I egged on a Tory victory by signing a letter condemning antisemitism in the Labour Party: YOU enabled it by throwing the British Jewish community, and basic morals, under the bus.”
The prevalence of far-Left anti-Semitism has been shocking but there is sweet satisfaction, at least, in knowing that it has now – and for years to come – been pushed back to the disempowered fringes from whence it came.