Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

Israel Up in Arms Over the Corbyn Threat


Following Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour’s new leader, the news in Israel was bleak. “New Labor Leader in Britain: Anti-Zionist” read the headline of Yisrael Hayom, the most widely read newspaper in Israel, which is owned by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s longtime supporter, casino king Sheldon Adelson. The subtitle explained: “Bad Surprise: The newly elected head of opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, who in the past called for a dialogue with ‘friends’ from Hamas and Hezbollah, is known as a radical lefty, an admirer of Karl Marx.”

The article goes on to claim that Corbyn has donated money to Holocaust deniers and notes with alarm that, as head of the opposition, he has the right to receive sensitive security and diplomatic updates.

One might have expected a different line from Ynet, Israel’s most visited online news source, which was adamantly against Netanyahu’s re-election in March 2015. But Ynet did not exude enthusiasm for Corbyn either, rather it characterised him as “A fierce opponent of Israel.” Repeating practically all of the accusations made in Yisrael Hayom, it also criticised Corbyn for portraying Osama Bin Laden’s assassination as a “tragedy”. The new Labour leader was blamed for claiming that it would have been more just if the US had arrested Bin Laden and brought him to trial.

NRG, another prominent news website, used the ultimate weapon in its headline: “Newly gordondominateelected Labor Leader donated to Holocaust Denier.” NRG explained that Corbyn had donated money to the pro-Palestinian NGO Deir Yassin Remembered, which is run by Holocaust denier Paul Eizen. It added that seven out of 10 Jews in Britain were worried about Corbyn’s election, and that the Labour Party itself was also troubled.

Another article explained to the Israeli audience the damage Corbyn’s victory would have on Britain’s Labour Party, announcing that it was as if Knesset Member Jamal Zahalka – a Palestinian nationalist from the Joint Arab List – had become the head of the Israeli Labor Party. The fact that Zahalka has never been part of Labour and that Corbyn has been a member of the British party for 40 years seemed to be irrelevant.

Assuming an ostensibly universalist – as opposed to Zionist – perspective, Anshel Pfeffer from Israel’s liberal Ha’aretz offered the most scathing analysis, describing Corbyn’s victory as “Another Step in Britain’s Departure From the World Stage”.

The fact that over a quarter of a million Labour members and voters affiliated with the party have just elected a leader who blames the West for Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, who fervently supports repressive klepotcracies like Chavista Venezuela and has supported terrorist groups around the world – from Northern Ireland to Iraq – in the name of anti-imperialism, could either mean that they agree with him on this, or more likely, the majority of them simply don’t care. They voted Corbyn for his anti-austerity policies, his willingness to espouse a clear socialist alternative, including the nationalisation of public transport and energy companies, and the fact that, unlike the other leadership candidates, he refuses to compromise his beliefs for something as trivial as being elected prime minister and implementing at least some of his policies.

Pfeffer went on to describe Corbyn as a “full-paid member of every fashionable cause of the radical-left, including his unquestioning support for Holocaust deniers and blood libellers – as long as they’re ‘pro-Palestinian’”.

What is fascinating in this piece, however, is not only the portrayal of Corbyn, but the way Israel’s most left-wing mainstream news outlet describes the United Kingdom’s demos with utter disdain. In Pfeffer’s view, Corbyn’s voters are ignorant or uninterested in their country’s foreign policy. Corbyn, he exclaims, “wouldn’t have been elected Labour leader with the largest personal mandate in the party’s history, if it were not for the fact that these issues simply didn’t matter to the vast majority of his supporters”.

The disturbing logic informing Pfeffer’s analysis is that in order to be a player on the world stage one has to support either a mainstream or a right-wing agenda. A leader cannot have a complex political agenda, challenge imperialism, support anti-colonial movements, or espouse an international socialist agenda if he or she wants to have influence in the global arena. He also unwittingly reveals that the most hated enemy of liberal Zionism is actually the international left, not the right. And yet, ironically, the attempt to render the political vocabulary of the left as both illegitimate and ridiculous suggests that it still constitutes a viable threat.

This article was first published in Middle East Eye.


Neve Gordon is the co-author (with Nicola Perugini) of the newly released The Human Right to Dominate.

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians
Steve Early
In Bay Area Refinery Town: Berniecrats & Clintonites Clash Over Rent Control
Kristine Mattis
All Solutions are Inadequate: Why It Doesn’t Matter If Politicians Mention Climate Change
Peter Linebaugh
Ron Suny and the Marxist Commune: a Note
Andre Vltchek
Sudan, Africa and the Mosaic of Horrors
Keith Binkly
The Russians Have Been Hacking Us For Years, Why Is It a Crisis Now?
Jonathan Cook
Adam Curtis: Another Manager of Perceptions
Ted Dace
The Fall
Sheldon Richman
Come and See the Anarchy Inherent in the System
Susana Hurlich
Hurricane Matthew: an Overview of the Damages in Cuba
Dave Lindorff
Screwing With and Screwing the Elderly and Disabled
Chandra Muzaffar
Cuba: Rejecting Sanctions, Sending a Message
Dennis Kucinich
War or Peace?
Joseph Natoli
Seething Anger in the Post-2016 Election Season
Jack Rasmus
Behind The 3rd US Presidential Debate—What’s Coming in 2017
Ron Jacobs
A Theory of Despair?
Gilbert Mercier
Globalist Clinton: Clear and Present Danger to World Peace
James A Haught
Many Struggles Won Religious Freedom
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Dear Fellow Gen Xers: Let’s Step Aside for the Millennials
Uri Avnery
The Peres Funeral Ruckus
Tom Clifford
Duterte’s Gambit: the Philippines’s Pivot to China
Reyes Mata III
Scaling Camelot’s Walls: an Essay Regarding Donald Trump
Raouf Halaby
Away from the Fray: From Election Frenzy to an Interlude in Paradise
James McEnteer
Art of the Feel
David Yearsley
Trump and Hitchcock in the Age of Conspiracies
Charles R. Larson
Review: Sjón’s “Moonstone: the Boy Who Never Was”