By Jeremy Havardi
Last week Jeremy Corbyn attended a Christmas fundraising dinner for Stop the War coalition, defying requests from some Labour MPs not to attend. Given his pivotal role within the organisation and a history of hard left rhetoric, his attendance was a near certainty and the protests somewhat futile.
A narrative has now emerged, encouraged by Corbyn himself, which pictures STWC as an ‘anti-war’ movement steeped in a tradition of British pacifism. There is indeed a long pacifist tradition in this country but STWC cannot be considered part of it. The organisation is not so much ‘anti war’ as ‘anti-West’. It does not espouse pacifism but rather seeks to muzzle western power at every opportunity.
In recent days, the organisation has been busy deleting articles from its website, ones which give revealing insights into its supporters’ political positions. One is entitled ‘Time to go to war with Israel as the only path to peace in the Middle East’.
Its author, Richard Falk, a former UN Special Rapporteur for the ‘Palestinian territories’, called for a ‘legitimacy war’ against Israel which would have to involve ‘the mobilisation of a movement from below, combining popular resistance with global solidarity’. None of this sounds like a determined stab at pacifism.
Then consider the Crimea. Far from attacking the illegal, expansionist policies of Vladimir Putin in that region, STWC has adopted a pro-Moscow line. In one article, Eamonn McCann wrote: ‘If we have to pick a side over Crimea, let it be Russia.’
This would be the same Russia that made repeated incursions into Ukrainian territory, seized vital areas of strategic significance and eventually carried out an illegal annexation. Such a violation of national sovereignty appears to be legitimate for STWC.
In fact the organisation is no more anti-terror than it is anti-war. As a case in point one can cite an article posted on 5th February 2014 by Alison Weir, founder of anti-Israel site ‘If Americans knew’. In the piece, she indulges fanciful conspiracy theories about the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
She writes that some of the athletes were ‘accidentally killed’ by members of Black September and others killed by German special forces. The attacks, she claims, served as a pretext for Israeli raids in Lebanon. This is a blatant attempt to whitewash the perpetrators of one of the highest profile terror attacks of the 1970s.
Support for terrorists also comes from John Rees, one of the organisation’s founders. A video has emerged from 2009 where he likens terror groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah (Corbyn’s ‘friends’) to resistance groups fighting Nazi occupation.
Finally, an article written by one Matt Carr and posted on the STWC website, claims that the ‘jihadist movement that ultimately spawned Daesh’ is ‘far closer to the spirit of internationalism and solidarity that drove the International Brigades than Cameron’s bombing campaign.’ It is hard to conceive of a more historically illiterate comparison.
The notion that by opposing western intervention, STWC is a champion of humanitarian causes is equally baseless. During one of their recent panel events discussing British air strikes against Damascus, no Syrians were allowed on the panel. Further, according to Peter Tatchell, some Syrian victims of Assad’s brutalities turned up but were not allowed to speak and, following a protest, they were threatened with arrest.
Support for Tatchell’s account comes from Amr Salahi, an activist from the Syria solidarity movement. Salahi claims that the focus of the meeting ‘was on British or American involvement’ and there was ‘no reference to the Syrian people’.
In other words, an organisation dedicated to ‘anti imperialism’ has adopted an imperialist mindset, believing that western voices are more credible than those of the indigenous population. In another article attacking the rights of indigenous Syrians, Jason Ditz dismisses the suffering of the Yazidis as a ‘false story used to justify war’ and compared them to Palestinians living in Gaza.
So it’s time to dismiss the idea that Stop the War is an anti-war or humanitarian organisation. It is an odious haven for radical leftists who assert that the West is incorrigibly