Magazine article The Spectator

Status Anxiety: Toby Young

Magazine article The Spectator

Status Anxiety: Toby Young

Article excerpt

Many people watching Jeremy Corbyn's interview on Marr last Sunday will have been shocked by his remarks about the need to begin a 'dialogue' with the leadership of the Islamic State. 'I think there has to be some understanding of where their strong points are,' he said.

Afterwards, when these comments were widely reported, Corbyn's supporters said they'd been taken out of context -- the standard defence whenever he is criticised for saying something positive about Islamist terrorists, such as describing Hamas and Hezbollah as his 'friends' or the death of bin Laden as a 'tragedy'. But there are only so many times this excuse can be used to explain these apparently supportive remarks. It's beginning to look as though the Labour leader really does sympathise with terrorists.

It's particularly difficult to make allowances for Corbyn when you take the broader context into account -- the historical links between the hard left and Islamism. I'm currently reading The Flight of the Intellectuals by Paul Berman, which, in large part, is about the failure of the European left to see Islamism for what it is: namely, a Middle Eastern form of fascism. Berman documents in painstaking detail how Islamism was transformed into a mass movement by the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s to foment anti-British insurrection in the Middle East and as an instrument for carrying out the extermination of the Jews.

The evidence linking Hassan al-Banna, the intellectual architect of Islamism and founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, to Nazism is substantial. For one thing, he singled out Hitler as a political role model in one of his political tracts. For another, he was a close ally of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, who helped set up a Muslim division of the Waffen SS in the Balkans. The Nazis gave the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies a good deal of resources, including a network of radio stations that the Grand Mufti used to disseminate pro-German propaganda. In 1942, one of these stations broadcast a speech telling all Arabs: 'You must kill the Jews before they open fire on you. Kill the Jews who appropriated your wealth and who are plotting against your security. Arabs of Syria, Iraq and Palestine, what are you waiting for? …

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