Imagine if there existed a photograph of Boris Johnson next to a man whose associates subsequently axed to death four imams in a mosque. Just imagine it. Imagine how much discussion there would be about the mainstreaming of Islamophobic fascism. About how Boris was enabling murderous racial hatred. About how the Tory party was falling to an extremist loathing of Muslims. Corbynistas in particular would never stop talking about it. Everything they wrote about Boris, forever, would mention his rubbing of shoulders with a man who was cool with the slaughter of imams.
Of course, no such photograph of Boris exists. But a photograph of Jeremy Corbyn in a similar position exists. It was revealed in the Times this morning. Yet far from denouncing Corbyn, his supporters are turning a blind eye to the photo, or are even denouncing its publication as yet another smear on their Dear Leader. And that’s because the man Corbyn was snapped alongside wasn’t linked to the slaughter of imams in a mosque but to the slaughter of rabbis in a synagogue. And as we now know, almost beyond reasonable doubt, Jews matter less to Corbynistas than every other social group.
The photo published in the Times comes from the now infamous 2014 ceremony in Tunisia; it shows Corbyn mixing with Maher al-Taher, leader of the proscribed Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. This was an often ruthless terror group. Just a few weeks after Corbyn hung out with its leader, the group claimed responsibility for an attack on a Jerusalem synagogue in which four rabbis, including a British one, were massacred with guns, knives and axes. The photos of the synagogue’s floor and books coated in blood are among the most disturbing to come out of the Middle East in recent years.
Does it matter that just a month before this barbaric anti-Semitic act took place, Corbyn was mixing with the leader of the group that claimed responsibility for it? Many people think it does. British Jews in particular will think it does. Corbynistas, however, do not. That’s what happens when you are interested in global peace and justice for Palestinians, they say — you find yourself in the company of less than pleasant people. Try to grasp the perversity of this argument: Corbyn is such a peace-loving, justice-pursuing politician that he inevitably finds himself mingling with a man whose terror group sliced to death four religious preachers. Makes sense.
What is now most striking about the Corbyn movement’s brushing aside of every revelation about their leader’s former associations, and their downplaying of the problem of left-wing anti-Semitism more broadly, is the double standards. The in-your-face double standards. So Boris is a borderline fascist merely for making fun of the burqa, yet Corbyn is a man of justice despite hanging out with someone whose group slaughtered four rabbis in cold blood. Even to retweet Steve Bannon is to risk being branded a Nazi sympathiser, but to help lay a wreath for a founder of the group that murdered Israeli athletes in 1972 — for the crime of being Israeli — is okay.
Or consider the double standards on freedom of speech. Corbynistas don’t give a fig about freedom of speech, on any issue, especially when it comes to things like Islam or transgenderism: criticise either of those ideologies and they will instantly denounce you and have you hounded out of polite society.
But on Israel, on the Jewish State, suddenly freedom of speech becomes important to them. The Corbyn crew is reluctant to adopt in full the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism because they think it will undermine the freedom to denounce and mock and ridicule Israel. This is literally the only time I have heard Corbynistas defend freedom of speech. The only freedom that excites them is the freedom to say Israel is foul, Israeli leaders are Nazi-esque, and British Jews might be a tad disloyal to Britain.
As I say, double standards. Jews and Jewish issues are always treated differently by Corbynistas. And there’s a word for that: prejudice. If you attack people for making mild gags about burqas but shrug your shoulders over people who mix with men whose associates murdered Jews in a synagogue, if you say freedom of speech is unimportant except when it comes to the freedom to call into question the legitimacy of the Jewish State, then you are sending a quite extraordinary message into the public sphere: ‘Jews are different. They’re fair game. Screw them.’