Is Hamas a terrorist group? This was the query posed to former UK Labour chief Jeremy Corbyn by Piers Morgan on his Monday night TalkTV present. It wasn’t a troublesome query. Corbyn was being invited to sentence a bunch that had raped, tortured and slaughtered tons of upon tons of of Israelis simply over a month in the past, on 7 October.
But Corbyn couldn’t do it. Morgan requested the identical query no fewer than 15 occasions. Every time, Corbyn, rising ever extra irascible, prevented answering. He most well-liked as an alternative to witter on about needing to ‘begin a course of that results in a ceasefire’. His programming simply wouldn’t permit him to reply. He was within the grip of the political equal of ‘laptop says no’. (To be honest, Corbyn has now referred to Hamas as a ‘terrorist group’ in an article for Tribune, a full 4 days after refusing to take action on TalkTV, and a full seven years after referring to the group as ‘buddies‘ at a public assembly.)
Corbyn’s surprising reluctance, when challenged by Morgan, to name out Hamas for what it’s – a violently repressive Islamist group dedicated to the annihilation of Israel and Jews – is not only a private failing. It is usually the failing of a lot of what passes for the left normally immediately, from Labour’s Corbynista fringe to bourgeois educational ‘theorists’ to the hard-left activists organising these interminable ‘pro-Palestine’ demos. All of them labour below the identical delusion as Corbyn – specifically, that Islamist teams like Hamas are on the vanguard of the worldwide resistance to the West. And that Israel and its Western allies are inherently evil.
That is what must be interrogated right here. Not Corbyn’s absurdist efficiency on Piers Morgan Uncensored. However the broader leftist milieu that enabled Corbyn’s efficiency. A milieu that now cleaves so carefully to Islamism that it really sees its regressive, violent antipathy to modernity as progressive. Certainly, a milieu amongst which there have even been some prepared to hail Hamas’s pogrom and declare 7 October a ‘day of celebration’.
The roots of this ethical and political degeneration run deep. A lot of the blame lies with the left’s abandonment of sophistication politics in favour of id politics. This wasn’t deliberate precisely. It was primarily a response to the political defeats endured by the British working class within the Eighties, adopted by the collapse of Communism overseas. By the Nineteen Nineties, some on the left, disoriented and disillusioned, had been turning away from – and more and more turning towards – the working class. Instead, they had been beginning to champion specific id teams and to marketing campaign round identitarian points.
A protester hods aloft a banner in Hyde park, throughout a protest towards Satanic Verses creator Salman Rushdie, 28 Might 1989.
It was at this level within the Nineteen Nineties that the seeds of immediately’s unholy alliance between sections of the left and Islamism had been sown. From the Nineteen Seventies onwards, the British state’s multicultural insurance policies, which gave money and energy to self-proclaimed ‘neighborhood representatives’, had already began to politicise Islam as a definite ethno-religious id. Religion, hitherto a personal and private affair, was successfully being was a principal type of public and political self-definition. This incipient Muslim id politics was given a shot within the arm by the Iranian revolution in 1979 earlier than it absolutely exploded, a decade later, throughout the Salman Rushdie affair.
What made Muslim id politics significantly interesting to sure sections of a disoriented left was that it appeared to map on to their historic help for Palestinians’ proper to self-determination. Because of this, it didn’t take a lot for some leftists to begin to search frequent trigger with Islamism, essentially the most radical type of Muslim id politics. So, because the Nineteen Nineties progressed, many leftists had been more and more ready to miss the darkish, reactionary coronary heart of Islamism within the pursuits of the worldwide wrestle towards Western imperialism.
The Prophet and the Proletariat, a 1994 pamphlet written by Chris Harman, the then editor of the Socialist Employee, captures the best way through which elements of the British left had been beginning to cosy as much as Islamism. In it, he admitted that Islamism can approximate fascism in its opposition to modernity, its murderous intolerance and its less-than-liberal attitudes to girls and minorities. However it’s not all unhealthy, Harman mentioned. Islamists, he wrote, have opposed ‘the state and parts of imperialism’s political domination… Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and Hamas within the West Financial institution and Gaza have performed a key function within the armed wrestle towards Israel’. Islamism, he concluded, is born of a ‘feeling of revolt [that] could possibly be tapped for progressive functions’.
The Prophet and the Proletariat marks a key second within the improvement of British Islamo-leftism – certainly, the time period itself is claimed to have originated with Harman’s work. It exhibits how Islamism may give a disoriented, opportunist left the looks of radical company, and the way this might, in flip, whitewash Islamism as a progressive pressure.
This marriage of mutual comfort was ultimately consummated within the 2000s, within the aftermath of 9/11 and the following US-led struggle on terror. Certainly, in 2002, the Cease the Struggle Coalition, dominated by the Socialist Employees Social gathering (SWP) and the Communist Social gathering of Britain (CPB), fashioned an alliance with the Muslim Affiliation of Britain (MAB). This benign-sounding organisation was based in 1998 by activists from the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian-origin Islamist motion that spawned Hamas. Little surprise that a few of MAB’s senior figures, equivalent to Anas Altikriti, are outstanding Hamas apologists or, within the case of Muhammad Kathem Sawalha, an precise former Hamas chief within the West Financial institution.
MAB’s influence on the anti-Iraq Struggle protests of 2002 and 2003 was pronounced. It was writ giant on the numerous MAB placards dished out to protesters, lots of which learn ‘Freedom for Palestine’. And it could possibly be heard within the anti-Israel chant ‘From the river to the ocean’, launched by the SWP for the anti-war protests in 2002 to exchange MAB’s most well-liked slogan, ‘Zionists out of Palestine’.
Antiwar demonstrators maintain banners whereas marching March 21, 2003 in London, England.
Because the Cease the Struggle motion developed, towards the background of a counter-insurgency in Iraq, its main figures appeared to lean ever nearer into Islamism. At factors in 2005 and 2006, they expressed help for the armed ‘resistance’ in Iraq, which, as we now know, grew to become the Islamic State. At a Cease the Struggle protest in July 2006, Lindsey German, then a number one SWP determine, even pledged her help for Hamas and Hezbollah. ‘They need democracy’, she mentioned of those famously vicious theocrats. ‘Democracy within the Center East is Hamas, is Hezbollah.’ And little doubt struggle is peace, too.
Later the identical yr, senior members of Cease the Struggle flew out to Beirut to take part in a convention at Hezbollah’s Centre for Strategic Research, with the purpose of ‘bettering the resistance capability and technique to face any new imperial assaults’.
The Cease the Struggle motion of the 2000s consolidated the fledgling relationship between sections of the exhausting left and precise Islamists. It additionally helped to speed up the political and ethical degeneration of the broader left. It diminished anti-imperialism to little greater than anti-Westernism, turning regressive Islamists from Iran or Gaza into anti-colonial heroes. And it concurrently fed off and fuelled id politics within the UK, reworking folks from residents who’ve political pursuits and needs in frequent into specific ethno-religious teams, usually in competitors with each other.
Specifically, this anti-war left exploited and deepened the pernicious type of Muslim id politics that had been supercharged by the Rushdie affair, turning Muslims into little greater than identikit victims of Western imperialism overseas and racism at dwelling (certainly, the time period ‘Islamophobia’ was solely coined in 1997). Their cynicism paid off on the 2005 Normal Election, when Respect, a Cease the Struggle spin-off celebration headed up by former Labour MP George Galloway, received the London constituency of Bethnal Inexperienced and Bow, an space with a big Muslim inhabitants. It was a triumph of anti-Western postures and pork-barrel identity-politicking.
This decay of the left, its embrace of Islamist political response and anti-Enlightenment thought, was not confined to the UK, in fact. Within the early 2000s, then modern Italian Marxist Antonio Negri and his American collaborator Michael Hardt had been busy praising Islamic fundamentalism for ‘its refusal of modernity as a weapon of Euro-American hegemony’, and celebrating the Iranian revolution ‘as a robust rejection of the world market’. After which in fact there was vogue-ish American thinker Judith Butler, who in 2006 mentioned: ‘Understanding Hamas [and] Hezbollah as social actions which can be progressive, which can be on the left, which can be a part of a world left, is extraordinarily essential.’ Butler’s ideas had been of a bit with the broader temper of many self-styled left-wing lecturers within the West, who had been expressing the identitarian flip of the left in more and more simple-minded theories of decolonisation, vital race idea and so forth.
In France, leftists’ willingness to ally themselves with Islamist tendencies has been significantly pronounced over the previous 25 years. Thinker and polemicist Pierre André Taguieff, drawing on Harman’s The Prophet and the Proletariat, even gave the phenomenon a reputation – Islamo-gauchisme (Islamo-leftism) – in his 2002 ebook, The New Judeophobia. Since then, amid a succession of Islamist terrorist assaults, an uptick in anti-Semitism and the rising alienation of France’s immigrant communities from mainstream society, Islamo-gauchisme has been the topic of intense public debate.
However that has not been the case right here within the UK. Exterior commentaries from ‘liberal’ champions of the Iraq Struggle, Islamo-leftism has acquired too little consideration. But there’s little doubt that, having flourished in soil tilled by the 2000s anti-war motion, it has thrived in Britain. And never simply among the many exhausting left of the SWP or the previous Stalinists of the CPB. It has taken maintain among the many middle-class left, too.
Take the luxury postgraduates of Novara Media. In 2014, the Novara web site printed a glowing profile of Mohammed Deif as a part of its ‘Radical Lives’ collection, describing him as an ‘uncompromising and shrewd “freedom fighter”‘ who has contributed to the ‘spectacular evolution of the resistance in Gaza’. Deif, because it occurs, is the commander of Ezzedeen al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s army wing. He’s additionally a vicious Islamist – so vicious, actually, that 9 years after Novara’s advertorial, Deif went on to organise the 7 October pogrom. Little surprise, maybe, that one in all Novara Media’s editors responded to the murderous assault on Israel on 7 October, by ignoring the atrocities and celebrating the ‘Palestinian armed resistance’.
Then Labour chief Jeremy Corbyn sits on stage as delegates wave Palestinian flags on the Labour Social gathering Convention, 25 September 2018.
After which, in fact, there’s the Labour Social gathering itself. Cease the Struggle stalwart Jeremy Corbyn grew to become Labour chief in 2015. It is a man who, throughout a go to to Tunis in 2014, was filmed laying a wreath on the grave of the Palestinian ‘Black September’ terrorists chargeable for murdering Israeli athletes on the 1972 Munich Olympics. A person, that’s, who struggles to see a theocratic bigot he doesn’t like.
Certainly, in 2011, the British authorities tried to deport Raed Salah, a Hamas fundraiser who believes the Jews had been behind 9/11. Corbyn protested, calling Salah an ‘honoured citizen’ who ‘represents his folks extraordinarily nicely’. A yr later, Corbyn was at a convention in Qatar. There, he listened to talks given by Palestinian militants, together with Husam Badran, a former head of Hamas’s army operations and the brains behind suicide bombings that had killed greater than 100 folks. Corbyn referred to as their contributions ‘fascinating and electrifying’. And, in fact, in 2016, the then Labour chief ‘invited buddies from Hamas to return and converse’ in parliament, and described Hamas as an ‘organisation that’s devoted in direction of the great of the Palestinian folks and long-term peace and social justice and political justice in the entire area’. Which is a method of describing a bunch that throws homosexuals off tall buildings and is useless set on exterminating Jews.
Corbyn like so many others doesn’t appear to recognise or care concerning the actuality of Islamism or Hamas. All that issues is that these Islamists are against the West, which supposedly makes them the great guys. Such sentiments are actually extensively shared throughout an Islamised left.
Now, within the aftermath of seven October, we’re seeing the fruit of the left’s decadent embrace of Islamism. So many outstanding leftist voices have been greater than prepared to aspect with Hamas or to excuse and downplay its murderous goals. The Socialist Employee, the SWP’s newspaper, greeted Hamas’s bloodbath of Jewish males, girls and youngsters with the headline ‘Rejoice’. Weekly protests organised by the left-dominated Palestine Solidarity Marketing campaign, with Cease the Struggle loitering within the background, have attracted an alarming variety of anti-Semites, holding up placards meshing the Star of David with the Nazi swastika or portraying Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu as Hitler. Islamist teams like Hizb ut-Tahrir, calling for ‘Muslim armies’ to stand up towards Israel, have held their very own demos in tandem. And, to high all of it off, we’ve the sight of Labour’s former chief virtually bodily unable to name Hamas terrorists.
We are actually witnessing the ethical self-immolation of enormous swathes of the left. Too many are actually marching side-by-side with Jew haters. They’re lending their help to those that advocate theocratic violence and repression. And they’re turning their backs on Enlightenment and modernity. They will gown all this up as ‘resistance’, hail it as ‘anti-imperialism’, or grasp a rainbow flag on it and name it ‘progress’. However it’s nothing of the kind. It’s a headlong embrace of barbarism.
That is the place that fateful flip in direction of id politics and Islamism three many years in the past has led immediately’s ‘radicals’. In direction of all the things that the left used to abhor.
Tim Black is a spiked columnist.
Photos by: YouTube and Getty.
To investigate about republishing spiked’s content material, a proper to answer or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.