The Labour party leader wrote the forward for a new edition of a book first published in 1902 that promoted conspiracy theories about international Jewish “financiers.”
Amid repeated revelations of anti-Semitism in the British Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn‘s leadership, columnist Daniel Finkelstein noted on Tuesday in the British newspaper The Times that in 2011, Corbyn expressed praise for a book which perpetuates the stereotype that Jewish financiers created imperialism.
The book in question is a new edition of JA Hobson’s Imperialism: A Study, first published in 1902. Corbyn’s endorsement came four years before he rose to the Labour leadership. He was asked to write a foreword and called the book “a great tome.”
Hobson is widely considered to have been a leading anti-Semite in the period toward the end of the 19th and into the 20th century.
In 1899, the editor of the Manchester Guardian asked him to report on the clashes between Britain and the Boers in South Africa, writes Finkelstein, adding that Hobson’s experiences were compiled in a book published in 1900 entitled The War in South Africa: Its Causes and Effects.
Two years later, drawing on his experiences, he published Imperialism: A Study, says the columnist.
Hobson blamed the Boer War on “Jew Power.” He referred to “Jewish financiers” who had manipulated the British government, saying that the Jews “suck their gains from every new forced expenditure and every sudden disturbance of public credit.” Hobson called Johannesburg a “New Jerusalem.”
A Labour party spokesperson is cited in the Jewish Chronicle (JC) as defending Corbyn’s comments on the book.
“Jeremy praised the liberal Hobson’s century-old classic study of imperialism in Africa and Asia,” said the spokesperson, adding that “similarly to other books of its era, Hobson’s work contains outdated and offensive references and observations, and Jeremy completely rejects the anti-Semitic elements of his analysis,”
The JC says that journalist and columnist Jonathan Freedland followed up by asking that “if that’s true, why didn’t he [Corbyn] reject them in the foreword where he so warmly praised the book?”
Ian Austin, an ex-Labour MP who quit the party over its anti-Semitism, is cited as calling Corbyn’s foreword “absolutely appalling.”