Jewish intellectual Noam Chomsky just took apart the antisemitism smears against Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn and Noam Chomsky
James Wright

Renowned Jewish intellectual Noam Chomsky has taken apart the antisemitism smears against Jeremy Corbyn.

“Disgraceful efforts” to remove Corbyn

Professor Chomsky is the author of over 100 books on war, politics, linguistics and media. In an email to Media Lens, Chomsky said the smears were part of a “disgraceful” campaign to dispose of Corbyn:

The charges of anti-Semitism against Corbyn are without merit, an underhanded contribution to the disgraceful efforts to fend off the threat that a political party might emerge that is led by an admirable and decent human being, a party that is actually committed to the interests and just demands of its popular constituency and the great majority of the population generally

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Labour’s policies do seem to meet the demands of the “great majority of the population”. Polling on some key features of Labour’s industrial strategy illustrates this:

  • 77% of people want public ownership of energy
  • 84% want the NHS in public ownership
  • 76% want the railways in public ownership
  • 83% want water in public ownership

Chomsky has previously endorsed Corbyn for prime minister. Speaking to Media Lens, he went on to say that Corbyn’s leadership is:

authentically concerned with the rights of suffering and oppressed people throughout the world.

Corbyn’s Labour has pledged to place UK foreign policy in line with international law. The party will end all arms sales to regimes if there is concern they are committing war crimes. Labour would also create a new minister for peace.

Antisemitism charges and an “intolerable threat”

Chomsky rounded off by saying that Corbyn is:

Plainly an intolerable threat to order.

Even people bringing antisemitism allegations against Corbyn appear to have conceded that their aim is to get rid of him. At the Jewish Labour Movement conference on 2 September, Blairite Labour MP Margaret Hodge spelt out that

The problem is that he [Corbyn] is the problem

In a similar vein, a pro-Israel campaigner openly spoke about “weaponising” antisemitism to banish Corbyn from “public life” on Sky News.

Misrepresentation

The smears against Corbyn rely heavily on misrepresentation. For example, mainstream outlets spent days accusing Corbyn of hosting an ‘antisemitic’ event in parliament in 2010, because speakers compared the actions of Israel to the Nazis. But at the meeting, a Jewish Holocaust survivor was addressing a room of predominantly Jewish people.

Broadly speaking, the total cases of antisemitism in Labour represent less than 0.1% of around 540,000 members.

With that in mind, widespread smears undermine the genuine instances and genuine concerns about antisemitism in Labour and wider society.

On 16 September for instance, Conservative environment secretary Michael Gove refused to condemn the openly antisemitic and Islamophobic far-right leadership in Hungary. That’s after the Conservatives whipped MEPs to back Viktor Orbán’s dangerous platform in a vote at the European Parliament. This has received far less media coverage than allegations of antisemitism against Corbyn and Labour that just don’t stack up.

Citizens who are sick of the smear campaign against Corbyn will no doubt welcome Chomsky’s intervention. The Jewish intellectual pointed to the broader context: the Labour leader represents an existential threat to the establishment. And it won’t go down without a fight.

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Featured image via Garry Knight/ Flickr and Andrew Rusk/ Flickr

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James Wright