Christiane Amanpour, Jeremy Corbyn's ill-deserved reprieves – opinion

Unless that culture is rejected as a whole, its hateful messages and phony “regrets” will continue to feed the airways and fill the halls of power.

Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn reacts after the General Election results of the Islington North constituency were announced (photo credit: REUTERS / HANNAH MCKAY)
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn reacts after the General Election results of the Islington North constituency were announced
(photo credit: REUTERS / HANNAH MCKAY)
CNN chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour and Britain’s former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn were given undeserved reprieves this week for behavior that should have sent them both packing for good.
Amanpour, whose unfettered leftist and anti-Israel slant has brought her decades of fame and fortune, managed on Monday to extinguish a fire of criticism that was coming at her from directions she hadn’t anticipated. The only effort it required was to issue what every media outlet in the world reported as an “apology” for the comments that elicited the brouhaha.
It was a neat trick, as remorse for her egregious sentiment – that US President Donald Trump is as dangerous as Adolf Hitler – was nowhere to be found in the clarification of her words about Kristallnacht, the Nazi pogrom against Jews in Germany and Austria in November 1938.
“This week 82 years ago, Kristallnacht happened,” Amanpour had said in her monologue last Friday. “It was the Nazis’ warning shot across the bow of our human civilization that led to genocide against a whole identity, and in that tower of burning books, it led to an attack on fact, knowledge, history and truth. After four years of a modern-day assault on those same values by Donald Trump, the Biden-Harris team pledges a return to norms, including the truth.”
Jews and non-Jews alike were appalled at Amanpour’s analogy. The Endowment for Middle East Truth also pointed to her having referred to the Holocaust as “genocide against a whole identity,” rather than the targeted annihilation of Jews.
Amanpour’s bosses and CNN’s lawyers must have advised her to profess that she hadn’t meant to minimize the Holocaust. They likely warned her, as well, not to acknowledge any actual error or liability.
The veteran journalist performed damage-control by wrapping up her next broadcast as follows, “And finally tonight, a comment on my program at the end of last week. I observed the 82nd anniversary of Kristallnacht, as I often do. It is the event that began the horrors of the Holocaust. I also noted President Trump’s attacks on history, facts, knowledge and truth. I should not have juxtaposed the two thoughts. Hitler and his evils stand alone, of course, in history. I regret any pain my statement may have caused. My point was to say how democracy can potentially slip away, and how we must always zealously guard our democratic values.”
In other words, though she “regrets” any pain she “may have caused” to, say, Jews who survived the tortures of Auschwitz – or their families – she still holds with the opinion that American democracy is in peril of “slipping away” if not “zealously guarded” from the likes of Trump.
Her fans must be relieved. The rest of us, not so much.
Corbyn’s resuscitation is a bit more complicated and a lot less comprehensible. The socialist politician resigned from the leadership of the Labour Party shortly after it suffered a crushing blow in the 2019 general election. And it’s no wonder, give the radical leftist, antisemitic direction in which he had steered the party during his four years at its helm.
He was succeeded in early April by Sir Keir Starmer, whose first stated order of business was to apologize for the “stain” of antisemitism in the party and pledge to “tear out this poison by its roots.”
At the end of May, the Equality and Human Rights Commission launched an investigation into “whether the Labour Party has committed a breach of the Equality Act 2010, related to Jewish ethnicity or Judaism, against its members, associates or guests, through its employees or agents.”
The EHRC released a report of its findings on October 29. Though the revelations in the 130-page document didn’t come as a surprise, they weren’t pretty.
The upshot of the study was that Labour had committed “unlawful harassment through the acts of its agents in two of the complaints we investigated. These included using antisemitic tropes and suggesting that complaints of antisemitism were fake or smears. As these people were acting as agents of the Labour Party, the Labour Party was legally responsible for their conduct.”
Corbyn’s response was to say that he didn’t accept “all of the report’s findings,” which he called “dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media.”
He also deflected blame by claiming he had inherited a defective system for dealing with complaints, and by accusing Labour of having prevented him from rectifying the situation. It was doublespeak worthy of the “friends” he has boasted of having in Hamas and Hezbollah.
A FEW HOURS after refusing to take responsibility for the antisemitism the EHRC found him guilty of perpetuating, he was suspended by the Labour Party. Starmer told reporters that though he hadn’t instigated the move, he fully supported it, due to Corbyn’s “disappointing” reaction to the report.
It was a happy day for the country’s sane citizens on both sides of the spectrum who believed that maybe the Labour Party was on the path to restoring some semblance of political, ideological and ethical health.
It didn’t take long for the party’s Corbynites to maneuver an about-face, however. On Tuesday, less than three weeks after his suspension, Corbyn suddenly was deemed kosher – by a disciplinary panel from Labour’s National Executive Committee – for reinstatement.
Whether this was a result of his social-media post that day bemoaning that he had been misunderstood is not clear. But the sequence of events smells fishy.
“Last month, I was suspended from the Labour Party, after 54 years’ membership and four-and-a-half years as party leader,” he wrote on Facebook. “On the day I was suspended I gave a broadcast interview to clarify what I had said in response to the EHRC report, and I also made a statement to the party to clear up any confusion about what I had meant, as follows: ‘The publication of the EHRC report should have been a moment for the Labour Party to come together in a determination to address the shortcomings of the past and work as one to root out antisemitism in our own ranks and wider society. We must never tolerate antisemitism or belittle concerns about it. And that was not my intention in anything I said this week.’”
Ironically, he went on to use the catchall phrase employed by Amanpour in her own non-apology.
“I regret the pain this issue has caused the Jewish community, and would wish to do nothing that would exacerbate or prolong it,” he wrote.
“To be clear, concerns about antisemitism are neither ‘exaggerated’ nor ‘overstated.’ The point I wished to make was that the vast majority of Labour Party members were and remain committed anti-racists deeply opposed to antisemitism. I fully support Keir Starmer’s decision to accept all the EHRC recommendations in full and, in accordance with my own lifelong convictions, will do what I can to help the party move on, united against antisemitism, which has been responsible for so many of history’s greatest crimes against humanity.”
Finally, he concluded, “I’m grateful to the many thousands of Labour Party members, trade unionists and supporters in Britain and around the world who have offered their solidarity. I hope this matter is resolved as quickly as possible, so that the party can work together to root out antisemitism and unite to oppose and defeat this deeply damaging Conservative government.”
A little while later, he tweeted that he was “pleased to have been reinstated” in the party. Britain’s Jews were not amused.
Gideon Falter, chief executive of the UK-based Campaign Against Antisemitism said, “The shambolic suspension and readmission of Jeremy Corbyn appears to have been nothing more than a media stunt to blunt the blow of the EHRC’s report.... By readmitting [him], the Labour Party has once again excused antisemitism and proved itself unwilling to address it.... The Jewish community has been conned.”
Caught between a Labour rock and a Jewish hard place, Starmer announced on Wednesday that Corbyn will not have his whip restored; that though he will retain his seat in the House of Commons, he will do so as an independent, not as a Labour MP.
Falter likened the gesture to “offering the Jewish community crumbs.”
He was right. So are those TV viewers who felt cheated this week by Amanpour’s stale morsel. Sadly, however, this is what beggars get.
This is why working to punish Amanpour, Corbyn and other individuals of their ilk is pointless. All are products and purveyors of a wider radical culture. Unless that culture is rejected as a whole, its hateful messages and phony “regrets” will continue to feed the airways and fill the halls of power.