Hours after British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn finally admitted that he did lay a wreath to honor terrorists responsible for the Munich massacre, The Guardian published a cartoon by Steve Bell and an op-ed by Owen Jones ardently defending him while smearing his critics.
We’ll deal with Jones’s op-ed in a separate post.
Here’s Bell’s cartoon:
The cartoon is inspired by a twitter battle yesterday between Netanyahu and Corbyn. In his tweet, the prime minister wrote: “The laying of a wreath by Jeremy Corbyn on the graves of the terrorists who perpetrated the Munich massacre and his comparison of Israel to the Nazis deserves unequivocal condemnation from everyone—left, right and everything in between.”
In response, Corbyn tweeted: “Netanyahu’s claims about my actions and words are false. What deserves unequivocal condemnation is the killing of over 160 Palestinian protesters in Gaza by Israeli forces since March, including dozens of children.”
Unsurprisingly, Corbyn neglected to acknowledge that a large number of “protesters” killed were affiliated with Hamas—who the opposition leader has previously referred to as his “friends” and as “brothers”—and that the violent border riots have included firebombs and other forms of violence.
But leaving the twitter dispute aside, note how Bell not only takes Corbyn’s side in the debate, but employs imagery attempting to associate Israel’s prime minister with apartheid—a smear based, in part, on a gross mischaracterization of the new Jewish nation-state law and even white supremacy.
It depicts U.S. President Donald Trump (with the flat head) on one side of him, and Steve Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist and once head of a website he proudly described as the platform for the alt-right, on his other side. The alt-right is a loosely affiliated movement which promotes white nationalism, racism and anti-Semitism.
It also includes a man waving an apartheid flag, likely a depiction of P.W. Botha, the former South African president during apartheid.
But that apartheid smear is not even the worst of it.
Standing next to Netanyahu is an American-flag hooded man clearly designed to evoke the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), the notorious U.S. white-supremacist group. Of course, the suggestion that Netanyahu is any way connected to the group’s ideology is an inversion of reality. In addition to their history of violent anti-black racism, the group is widely known for their virulent anti-Semitism. David Duke, a former KKK grand wizard, is among the more notorious anti-Semites in America, and his messages typically include conspiratorial depictions of Jewish power, including alleged Jewish control of the media, banking, world affairs and governments.
He also includes Israel within his rhetorical repertoire of anti-Semitism.
Interestingly, Duke has actually heaped praise—not on Netanyahu, but on Jeremy Corbyn. In an interview with anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist James Thring, Duke characterized Corbyn as a ray of “sunshine” due to, you guessed it, his views on the Middle East. You may recall that, in 2015, Corbyn, then a candidate for Labour Party leader, hosted an event at Parliament where Thring spoke.
However, there’s actually someone else that comes to mind, who has used anti-Semitic motifs in the context of criticizing Israel, worth mentioning in response to the Guardian cartoon.
The 2012 cartoon below, by Bell himself, depicting Tony Blair and William Hague as puppets of Netanyahu, was condemned by the Community Security Trust for its evocation of the toxic antisemitic trope depicting “Jews as puppeteers, controlling the politicians of ostensibly much more powerful nations”.
Note also that Corbyn was recently revealed to have promoted his own anti-Israel conspiracy, in bizarrely suggesting, on Iran’s Press TV in 2012, that Jerusalem may have been responsible for the jihadist terror attacks in Egypt that year, echoing a similar accusation by the Muslim Brotherhood.
But, this story is about more than simply the hypocrisy, dishonesty and malice in Bell’s defense of Corbyn and smear of Israel’s prime minister.
The Guardian’s decision to rally to Corbyn’s defense, amidst an avalanche of criticism over the tribute he paid to terrorists responsible for the murder and mutilation of innocent Israeli civilians, and other examples of Corbyn praising terrorists, once again shows that senior editors are not “merely” viscerally hostile to Israel.
Whilst it would be wrong to blindly accuse journalists and editors of being personally anti-Semitic, some within the top echelons of the media group (though at times condemning anti-Semitism in the abstract) seem much like Corbyn himself—to hold the values and concerns of the mainstream British Jewish community, united in the belief that the Labour Party leader represents, as the JC phrased it, “an existential threat to Jewish life in the UK”— in utter contempt.