Socialist Worker

Arkush attacks Corbyn as antisemitic ahead of Netanyahu's London visit

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2607

The Labour right and Zionists have used false accusations of antisemitism to attack Corbyn

The Labour right and Zionists have used false accusations of antisemitism to attack Corbyn (Pic: Guy Smallman)

A leading critic of Jeremy Corbyn has claimed that Corbyn’s criticism of Israel means he is antisemitic.

Jonathan Arkush, outgoing director of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said that Corbyn “has views which are antisemitic.

“I think we are all entitled to some clarity on his real views about Israel”.

Arkush—due to step down as director on Friday—made the remarks in an interview with the right wing Daily Telegraph newspaper. He made clear his accusations were based on Corbyn’s support for the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the Stop the War Coalition.

“His associations are clear,” Arkush said. “He is a patron of Palestine Solidarity Campaign—if you look at its logo and language, it’s quite clear its world picture has no room for Israel.”

He added, “Delegitimising the state of Israel is antisemitic.

“He was a chairman of Stop the War, which is responsible for some of the worst anti-Israel discourse.

“He has never disavowed that sentiment. Is this double speak? What are we supposed to think? If he shares the prevalent discourse about Israel, then that view is unquestionably antisemitic.”

Arkush faced criticism in 2016 after publically congratulating Donald Trump—who has appealed to antisemites for support—for his election as US president.


But he disgracefully suggested that racism in Britain would get worse if Corbyn—a lifelong anti-racist—became prime minister unless he “took steps that were very clear that firmly, clearly and effectively addressed all forms of racism”.

He said Corbyn needed to tell Jews he “will not accept a discourse which denies the existence of their own land to the Jewish people.”

Arkush’s comments are some of the clearest evidence that accusations of antisemitism aimed at the Labour left are intended to limit criticism of Israel.

In a meeting with Corbyn last month, Arkush tried to force Labour to adopt a definition of antisemitism that says describing “the existence of the state of Israel as a racist endeavour” is antisemitic.

That definition has already been used by some universities to cancel “Israeli Apartheid Week” events organised by students on campuses.

It would also classify supporting a one state solution in Palestine, with equal democratic rights for Jews and Arabs, as antisemitic.

After Corbyn refused to accept the definition the Daily Mail newspaper published a leaked account of the meeting that said he lacked the “emotional or intellectual ability” to understand it.

After Arkush’s interview was published a spokesperson for Corbyn said his accusations were “personal attacks without any evidence to support them.


“Jonathan Arkush’s attempt to conflate strong criticism of Israeli state policies with antisemitism is wrong and undermines the fight both against antisemitism and for justice for the Palestinians.

“It should be rejected outright.”

Arkush’s comments are part of a concerted effort by supporters of Israel to undermine support for Palestinians, following huge demonstrations in Britain against Israel’s war on Gaza in 2014.

Israel once again launched new airstrikes on Palestinians in Gaza this week, and appears to be preparing for war in Lebanon or Syria.

Israel pounded Gaza with airstrikes on Tuesday night after mortars were reportedly fired by Palestinian resistance faction Islamic Jihad.

The mortar fire came just weeks after Israeli soldiers massacred more than 60 Palestinians protesting at Gaza’s border. Israel has killed some 118 Palestinians in Gaza since March.

Right wing Labour MPs responded to the massacre by repeating Israel’s justifications for it.

MP Ian Austin blamed Palestinian resistance group Hamas for violence on the protests in a lengthy article this week.

And on Monday six Labour MPs posed smiling for a photo in East Jerusalem—under repressive Israeli military occupation—on a trip organised by Labour Friends of Israel.

Corbyn’s enemies on the right want a Labour Party that supports Israel against the Palestinians—and a left that is scared to speak out against it.

The best response is to protest ahead of Israeli president Binayamin Netanyahu’s visit to London next week.

For details of the London protest go to London: Free Palestine - Stop the Killing - Stop Arming Israel on Facebook

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