Seth Mandel posted a clip of this interview on Twitter in which Jeremy Corbyn refuses to apologize for the scandal of anti-Semitism in his own Labour Party. But that’s really just the end of a much longer interview in which Corbyn struggles under withering questioning from interviewer Andrew Neil. Neil dismantles Corbyn’s attempted excuses over the course of 10 minutes in a way that leaves Corbyn looking frustrated, not to mention foolish.
Neil opened the interview with this: “Jeremy Corbyn, the Chief Rabbi says a new poison of anti-Semitism, anti-Jewism, has taken root in the Labour Party, and it’s sanctioned by you, he says.”
“I’m looking forward to having a discussion with him,” Corbyn replied calmly. He added, “So far as I’m concerned, anti-Semitism is not acceptable in any form, anywhere in our society…When I became leader in 2015 I looked at processes that were available for dealing with egregious behavior and they weren’t as good as they should have been. We’ve developed a much stronger process. We have sanctioned people that have behaved in an anti-Semitic way, removed some from party membership and even removed people as candidates.”
“When the far right are rising across Europe using anti-Semitic tropes in order to intimidate people then I think we’ve all got to stand up together,” Corbyn said.
But Neil was just getting started. “It’s not the far right he’s worried about…it’s about you and how anti-Semitism rose as a problem in the Labour Party after you became leader. Why?” he asked.
Corbyn gave another filibuster answer but Neil eventually cut him off: “You’re speaking in generalities, let’s get to some specifics. You said in the ITV debate that anyone who has committed any anti-Semitic act in the Labour Party, they’ve been suspended or expelled and you’ve investigated, your words, every single case. The chief Rabbi has called that a mendacious fiction and he’s right, isn’t he?”
Corbyn denied it so Neil got even more specific. “Is it anti-Semitic to say ‘Rothschild Zionists run Israel and world governments?'”
Corbyn tried to dodge but Neil asked again, “Is that anti-Semitic?” Corbyn kept talking so Neil asked a third time, trying to pin him down.
“It should not be used and it is,” Corbyn replied.
“You can’t say it’s anti-Semitic?” Neil asked.
“I just said that it should not be used,” Corbyn said.
“That’s different from it being—there’s lots of things shouldn’t be used but that’s not the same as anti-Semitic. Is it or isn’t it anti-Semitic?” Neil asked.
Corbyn replied, “Andrew, it is an anti-Semitic trope that has been used. If you’d let me finish before, I made that very clear in the Chakrabarti report.”
At this point, Neil pointed out that the Labour member who uttered those words has yet to be suspended by the party. “You said everybody’s been suspended or expelled, but he hasn’t been suspended.”
When Corbyn began to ramble again, Neil interrupted him. “For using what we’ve agreed was an anti-Semitic trope, why has he not be suspended during the investigation?”
“The investigation is ongoing…”
“It’s a year.”
“It’s ongoing so far as I’m aware and action will be taken at the conclusion of that investigation,” Corbyn said.
“Why does it take a year to investigate someone who says, ‘Rothschild Zionists run Israel and world governments?'”
Corbyn could only say that he wasn’t sure but the delay might be the result of involvement by attorneys. At this point, we’re five minutes into the interview and Andrew Neil is just warming up. “Is questioning whether 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust the kind of thing that should get you thrown out of the Labour Party?” Neil asked.
Corbyn agreed it was terrible at which point Neil revealed a Labour Party member had shared a video questioning how many people died in the Holocaust. The party’s response was a warning, not a suspension or an expulsion.
“That was some time ago, I believe,” Corbyn said.
Neil revealed that “some time ago” was August of 2017.
It never gets better for Corbyn on this topic. Neil eventually states, “British Jews, many of them fear you making it into Downing Street, and that if you do many are preparing to leave the country. Are you not ashamed of that?” He gave Corbyn a chance to apologize to British Jews, but Corbyn side-stepped it several times.
Here’s the full interview. After the part on anti-Semitism, they move on to Brexit, Corbyn’s spending plans, taxes, and national security. Your mileage may vary, but I don’t think he looked very good in any of it. If you stick around to the end you’ll see Corbyn refusing to commit to ordering troops to kill the next leader of ISIS if given a clear chance to do so.