The charge against the Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn is not that he is anti semitic. It is that he is willing to form an alliance with those who are.
For example there is Paul Eisen whose group Deir Yassin Remembered has been supported by Mr Corbyn in the past. During an interview for Channel 4 News, Mr Corbyn said that he attended “some years ago”. He was photographed at an event in 2013 – yet the Palestine Solidarity Campaign denounced the group in 2007. While Mr Eisen says Mr Corbyn “opened his cheque book” but Mr Corbyn denies that saying he simply “put money in a bucket” at meetings.
Then we had another interview with Mr Corbyn today – this time with Martha Kearney for The World at One. He was asked about his reference to Hamas as “friends”. He said he was being “diplomatic”. It would seem that Mr Corbyn’s diplomacy is selective. Would he refer – other than ironically – to his “friends” in the CIA or Mossad or NATO or the Ulster Unionists?
He says “it’s good to talk to people” – as his justification for “dialogue” with terrorist groups. But he can sometimes become reluctant to talk such as when he pulled out of an interview with the Jewish Chronicle.
Miss Kearney also asked Dyab Abou Jahjah – who tweeted a picture sitting next to Mr Corbyn on the platform of a meeting of the Stop he War Coalition. Mr Jahjah has said he considers “every dead American, British and Dutch soldier a victory” and has also spoken about “hoax” gas chambers.
Mr Corbyn said:
“I’m sorry, I don’t know who this person is.”
I’m sure Mr Corbyn goes to a great many meetings. He can’t be expected to remember everyone’s name. But there does seem to be an accumulation of evidence that he mixes with the wrong crowd.
There is also something worrying in his petulant response to these questions – as if he considers it unreasonable to journalists to ask him about such associations. His voice goes up an octave and he demands “can I finish” – usually as a mechanism to avoid answering too many specifics.
This is the man supposed to be the antidote to spin. Someone principled. Someone open about speaking his mind. Even before he becomes leader that image is taking a jolt.