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This task becomes even more important in the face of historical revisionism across Europe. Poland’s rewriting of historical involvement in the Holocaust was an attempt to make the official narrative of the Second World War less complex and more heroic. In reality Poland’s war history is as blurred as any other country. Polish anti-Semitic complicity during the war is tempered by the heroism of Polish pilots in the Battle of Britain. The attempt to deny the bloody contradictions of history is unforgivable. To do so in the service of anti-Semitism comes close to repeating the sins of the past. In Hungary the situation is perhaps even worse. Viktor Orban’s recent electoral success was based on an implicitly anti-Semitic campaign that was directed more at George Soros than the opposition.

That the Labour Party’s anti-Semitism problem should erupt against a backdrop of European anti-Semitism is even more disturbing. Corbyn is clearly not the man to find his way out of or even understand the labyrinth at the heart of modern liberal politics. It is hardly surprising that he is aggressively unwilling to root out anti-Semitism in any meaningful way, and he is equally unwilling, despite overwhelming evidence, to condemn Russia for enabling chemical attacks in the UK and Syria. What he cannot grasp is that the values he purports to uphold are part of the specific history of the West, the very society he attacks. Time and again he has chosen to ally himself with organisations and states antithetical to these values.

Corbyn would prefer all Western military action to be subject to UN approval, and with it the inevitable Russian veto. This serves to highlight the fragility of our norms of behaviour which if not protected will continually be violated. We should have learnt a valuable lesson from the years of inaction under the Obama administration. Successive failure to uphold these values has made it more dangerous to do so now. If Obama’s now infamous “red lines” had been upheld at the time, we would not be faced with the possibility that enforcement of the prohibition of chemical weapons now faces the real risk of escalation with Russia.
We may point the finger at newly illiberal regimes on the periphery of Europe as undermining our values. The more uncomfortable reality is that views undermining Western values exist far closer to home and have become determinedly mainstream. For that we can thank the ageing soixante-huitards and their legacy.
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