OK: some of the “antisemitism” stuff levelled against Corbyn has been exaggerated, misinformed and (sometimes) dishonest. But these comments from Corbyn five years ago are indefensible:
He has crossed a line here in a way that the examples in other disputes haven’t. As it happens, the offence isn’t any of the usual left-antisemitic tropes – rather what is apparent about this is how his comments are standard delegitimisation of migrants for not “fitting in”, for not “integrating”, for failing to “adopt English/British ways”. And in the scheme of things, compared to other such comments from Brexiteers and anti-migrant MPs, it’s relatively mild. Not the kind of thing that should, in itself, prompt anything more than a request for an apology (unfortunately the party HQ’s response has been to say, no, it’s not bad because he was talking about this specific group of pro-Israel activists, not making a general comment about either Zionists or Jews).
The truth is that it’s a typical example of the kind of mild ‘left’ antisemitism that was, and is, commonplace in the Stop The War/Counterfire/SWP/Tariq Ali milieu that Corbyn has been used to moving in and from which he’s received his political education: it’s now essential that he breaks with it publicly, once and for all.
Despite the bluster from Labour HQ this is new ground in how it crosses from politically contestable stuff to something that’s more unpleasant and racist. Corbyn must apologise and set about mending his ways immediately.