Corbyn & Terrorism myths – By Emma Campbell

Myth

I’ve heard Jeremy Corbyn is a terrorist sympathiser…

Truth

On the eve of the Syrian airstrike vote, David Cameron made the following statement to Conservative MPs, “You should not be walking through the lobbies with Jeremy Corbyn and a bunch of terrorist sympathisers”[1] This was in reference to Labour MPs who were planning on voting against airstrikes. Anoosh Chakelian writing for The NewStatesman theorises that Cameron wanted to the phrase linked in particular to Corbyn and McDonnell but, “is disguising it as an off-record gaffe so that he can brush it off without retracting it.”[2] There is no link between reluctance to bombing countries with sympathy towards terrorists.

Corbyn’s reluctance to condone airstrikes is partly influenced by the possibility of civilian causalities. Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon has gone on record as saying that the use of modern day precision weapons had eliminated civilian causalities. Additionally, The Ministry of Defense (MOD) stated; in relation to UK air strikes that there has been “no known” civilian casualties. However despite such statements the MOD subsequently declined to be interviewed on the subject but later issued a following statement saying, “We can’t completely eliminate the risk of civilian causalities, but we carefully mitigate that risk through strict targeting procedures”[3]

In January 2017, the UK reported 20 airstrikes in Iraq and four in Syria. [4] It is believed that the month saw the highest likely death toll from Coalition airstrikes in any single month. Estimates suggest that in Mosul civilian deaths ranged from 169 and 195 (more than double the death toll of December 2016) While in Raqqa between 40 and 59 civilians were estimated to have been killed in the same month. [5]

The following has been paraphrased from Tim Eaton, an analyst at Chatham House in response to what he believes about the UK involvement in airstrikes on Syria. “There is no doubt that it will be used in ISIS propaganda against the UK. Britain has already been identified as a target for terrorists and developing a coherent strategy for resolving the conflict- as opposed to carrying out airstrikes alone – is the only way to defeat the group.”[6]

Myth

I’ve heard Jeremy Corbyn supports the action of Hezbollah and Hamas…

Truth

During a PMQs session in May 2016, David Cameron stated that Corbyn had said the following, “It will be my pleasure and my honour to host an event in Parliament where our friends from Hezbollah will be speaking… I’ve also invited friends from Hamas to come and speak as well.”[7] While Corbyn did indeed make these comments at a Stop the War Coalition meeting in 2009, what Cameron fails to add is that directly following this, Corbyn goes on to say, “As far as I’m concerned that’s absolutely the right function on parliamentary facilities to invite people from other parts of the world so that we can promote that peace, that understanding, and that dialogue.” In the same speech, Corbyn discusses that labelling Hamas as a terrorist organisation is a mistake, and while this may be a point of contention for many it is still a point worth making. [8]

To paraphrase Jonathan Russo, a Lay Scholar of Israel and it’s politics on this point, “The reason is that it is reductive to the point of inaccuracy and has therefore prevented the Israeli security establishment and the rest of the world from understanding what Hamas wants and how to engage it on proper terms. Hamas’s Gaza in 2007 became a legitimate government, an identifiable enemy state on Israel’s southwestern border committed to war. Not understanding this is why missiles rain down on Hadera and Jerusalem today.”[9]

However Corbyn’s so called ‘support’ for organisations such as these is still frequently used to attack him, especially in regards to his support towards the LGBT community. To paraphrase Stephen Gilbert in his book Jeremy Corbyn-Accidental Hero, “As a gay man, I have been challenged more than once to defend Corbyn’s willingness to meet with people what believe that homosexuality is a mortal sin and even a capital offense. I have no difficulty in defending it because Corbyn’s motive is always to build bridges. In a mathematical analysis of his voting record on LGBT rights, Corbyn scores 95.3%. That’s good enough for me.”[10][11]

Myth

I’ve heard Jeremy Corbyn wouldn’t implement a shoot to kill policy in response to a terrorist attack…

Truth

The following was presented as Corbyn’s response to Laura Kuenssberg’s question on whether he would be ‘happy for British officers to pull the trigger in the event of a Paris-style attack’, “I am not happy with a shoot-to-kill policy in general. I think that is quite dangerous and I think can often be counterproductive.” However, after an investigation into the story; sparked by a viewer’s complaint that the interview did not accurately reflect Corbyn’s views, The BBC Trust found that the BBC broke accuracy and impartiality rules in it’s reporting of the supposed statement. They stated that the BBC “…was wrong in this case to present an answer Mr. Corbyn had given to a question about ‘shoot to kill’ as though it were his answer to a question he had not in fact been asked.” The response given by Corbyn had instead been to a question on whether he would be happy to order police or military “to shoot to kill” on Britain’s streets, without any specific mention of a terrorist attack. [13]

MythI

I’ve heard Jeremy Corbyn supports the IRA…

Truth

The following are extracts taken from Corbyn’s interview with Stephen Nolan on BBC Radio 5. “…I maintained contact with Sinn Fein and believed that there had to be a political, not a military, solution to the situation in Northern Ireland. The British government developed that process, the Labour Party developed that process and eventually we had agreement between the SDLP and Sinn Fein… We got the two ceasefires and eventually the Belfast Agreement.”

“I condemn all bombing, it is not a good idea, and it is terrible what happened.”

“…my point is that the whole violence was terrible, was appalling, and came out of a process that had been allowed to fester in Northern Ireland for a very long time and surely we can move on a bit and look towards the achievements of the peace process in moving things forward. [14]

These statements show clearly Corbyn condemns the bombings carried out by the IRA. However many still brand him an IRA supporter, as he doesn’t shy away from acknowledging the responsibility of the British Army for the violence seen in Ireland. Luke Davies an academic researcher at UCL has this to say on the matter “…there are many who would hotly contest his point of view — but it does not follow that he has ever had any sympathy for IRA terrorist tactics…Taking Corbyn’s actions out of these contexts, ignoring his repeated condemnation of the IRA’s violent tactics and insisting that he met with these individuals (in parliament) as an expression of loyalty to their cause requires a series of staggering imaginative leaps.”[15]

Another source of controversy seems to be that surrounding an article first appearing in The Sun then re-reported in The Guardian, claiming that in 1987 Corbyn was duped into giving £45 to a fraudster claiming to be an IRA bomber on the run. The reemergence of this story prompted Tory MP Connor Burns to question ‘whether sensitive information should be shared with the leader of the opposition,’ due to the fact he may be a threat to national security. The story had originally appeared in The Times on January 31st 1987. However, just 12 days later The Times was forced to issue an apology when it came to light that it was a member of his constituency staff, and not Corbyn himself who had handed money over to the fraudster. In fact, on hearing of the news Corbyn immediately notified police and consequently Sean O’Regan was given a four-year jail sentence. [16]

To summarise we should keep in mind the following:
– Quotations attributed to Corbyn are often taken out of context or abbreviated to suit a right wing agenda.
– Past actions and quotations attributed to Corbyn which are used to attack him have often later been proven to be taken from previously debunked sources
– The words of politicians or the media are NEVER to be taken at face value. It is therefore our duty as citizens of a democracy, to engage with material, research alternative viewpoints and reach OUR OWN conclusions.
– The actions of an individual always speak louder than words, especially when one’s words are so often taken out of context.
References

1. & 2. Chakelian, A. David Cameron refuses to apologise for calling opponents to bombing Syria “terrorist sympathisers”. http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/staggers/2015/12/david-cameron-refuses-apologise-calling-opponents-bombing-syria-terrorist

3. Beale J. Have RAF air strikes against IS killed no civilians? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-37339184

4. Ministry of Defence. Update: Air strikes against Daesh. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/update-air-strikes-against-daesh

5. Hopkins A. International airstrikes and civilian casualty claims in Iraq and Syria: January 2017. https://airwars.org/news/international-airstrikes-and-civilian-casualty-claims-in-iraq-and-syria-january-2017/

6. Batchelor T. Bombing ISIS in Syria WILL increase chance of terror attack on UK streets, expert warns. http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/623524/Islamic-State-ISIS-Syria-airstrikes-terror-attack

7. Full Fact Team. Council cuts, homelessness, and Hezbollah: Prime Minister’s Questions, factchecked. https://fullfact.org/economy/homelessness-council-cuts-and-hezbollah-prime-ministers-questions-factchecked/

8. Cousins A. Stop the War Coalition – Meet the Resistance – Jeremy Corbyn MP London 3 March 2009. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQLKpY3NdeA

9. Russo J. The Fatal Label: Reducing Hamas in Gaza to “Terrorists”. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jonathan-russo/the-fatal-label-reducing-_b_5584814.html

10. Gilbert S. Jeremy Corbyn – Accidental Hero, 2 ed. London: Eyewear Publishing; 2016.

11. mySociety. How Jeremy Corbyn voted on equal gay rights. https://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/10133/jeremy_corbyn/islington_north/divisions?policy=826

12. BBC News. In full: Kuenssberg interview with Jeremy Corbyn about Syria. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-34830750

13. BBC News. Laura Kuenssberg report on Jeremy Corbyn inaccurate, says BBC Trust. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-38666914

14. BBC Radio 5. Jeremy Corbyn asked five times to condemn IRA violence. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02z3x45

15. Davies L. Corbyn’s dangerous friends: debunking the myths. https://medium.com/@luke_davies/corbyns-links-to-terrorists-antisemites-and-dictators-6018ad09a14#.2eoz7xe8x

16. MP was duped. https://twitter.com/ProfChalmers/status/642448232371630080

3 comments
  1. Pingback: Collective Voice | Counterargument to the Guardian’s article on Corbyn

  2. Pingback: Collective Voice | Counterargument to the Guardians article on Corbyn

  3. A very good ‘cherry picked’ defensive tirade of a terrorist supporter, when I served in NI in the mid 80s we had orders to arrest the IRA supporter Corbyn, his dirty grubby hands are all over the IRA, especially Adams and McGuinness, he’s been funded by terrorist organisations and that’s why he defends them and has lobbied for them in the past, no anount of defending or spinning will erase his past or links to terrorists….peace maker…my arse.

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