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Israel’s Left Discovers a New Hero: Jeremy Corbyn

In ‘Haaretz’ and on campus, nothing but love for the embattled Labour leader

Liel Leibovitz
September 07, 2018
Maddy Cozins, Flickr
Jeremy Corbyn addressing Rage Against Israel demonstration in EnglandMaddy Cozins, Flickr
Maddy Cozins, Flickr
Jeremy Corbyn addressing Rage Against Israel demonstration in EnglandMaddy Cozins, Flickr

The left in Israel isn’t doing too well these days. Reduced to a handful of seats in the Knesset, seared by scandal, and now tragically opposed to Zionism itself, the few remaining progressives in Tel Aviv are forever on the lookout for a leader to save them from the abyss, someone strong and charismatic who can make the Israeli left great again. To judge by the chatter in Haaretz and the talk in academia, they’ve finally found just the pole-bearer they’ve been looking for. His name is Jeremy Corbyn.

Corbyn, wrote Yitzhak Laor, a renowned poet and essayist, is “the only serious leftist leader in the West.” And he’s tragically subjected to a vicious propaganda campaign orchestrated by—fetch the smelling salts—Israel. “While it crushes the Palestinians in the occupied territories,” thundered Laor, Israel “began to promote, with immense propaganda machinery and with the help of Jewish communities abroad,” the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism, which is nothing more than a blunt instrument to accuse anyone critiquing Israeli brutalities against the Palestinians as Jew-hatred. “How ghastly is the effort to dictate to the West how to define anti-Semitism while we shatter the Palestinians entity,” wrote Laor.

He was being subtle. Also in Haaretz, the columnist Gideon Levy made his admiration for the dear leader known in stentorian terms. Corbyn, he wrote, “is an icon of the left, a man who had spent a lifetime fighting for the values he believed in.” That these values included calling Hamas and Hezbollah his dear friends hardly bothered Levy, for whom the only real evils are the ones perpetrated by the demonic government in Jerusalem. “Anyone who wants to see the world working against the Israeli occupation,” he added, “should be dreaming of Corbyn” while denouncing the attempts by Israelis and British Jews to sinisterly portray this wonderful man as anything but a champion of peace and human rights.

Never ones to be outdone when general lunacy is afoot, the professors soon followed suit. On Facebook, one Tel Aviv University professor shared the long-winded post of another, claiming that Corbyn was the victim of character assassination and that he’d done no wrong save for oppose Israel’s predatory policies. And, sensing their opportunity, a handful of Israeli Arab MKs joined the festivities as well, sending Corbyn a letter and praising him for his “uncompromising support of the Palestinian people.”

It’s easy to laugh at such madness, but the truth is far more grim. Israel was founded by sober socialists who responsibly balanced their pursuit of justice with their belief in the right of Jews to return to their ancient homeland and establish a sovereign nation there. To see the contemporary left abandoning these principles and cozying up instead to those who cheer on terrorists, murderers, and anti-Semites is nothing short of a tragedy.

Liel Leibovitz is editor-at-large for Tablet Magazine and a host of its weekly culture podcast Unorthodox and daily Talmud podcast Take One. He is the editor of Zionism: The Tablet Guide.