I wanted to write my thoughts on this because I don’t think Corbyn’s response really effectively communicated what he was trying to say.
I’ll leave aside Krishnan Guru-Murthy’s sloppy journalism (he’s just doing his job) and instead concentrate on what the question entails and those implications.
The question “are Hamas and Hezbollah your friends”? is a problematic one, for a number of reasons. All these reasons are tied to a habit of categorising a collection of people into a single consciousness which is a combination of basic and ancient tribalism with the very modern and very recent idea of conceptualising and labelling (a mere tens out thousands of years old). As it happens, this combination results in bullshit.
The fact is (and this is what the narrative of our government and the media don’t want you to realise) that both Hamas and Hezbollah are groups made up of people. Hamas is not a consciousness. Hezbollah is not a consciousness. They are both a collection of ideas. You can disagree with ideas, you can hate the ideas, but ideas cannot be a friend or an enemy. Only beings can. Hamas is not a being. Hezbollah is not a being.
What Jeremy was struggling to say through the noise generated by the insane Bill O’Reilly-ranting of Guru-Murthy is that Hamas is a group of people, and if anyone, no matter where they come from or who they are, desire – genuinely – to sit down and have meaningful discussions with a mutual goal to work towards establishing a real, sustainable peace, then that person is my friend. As the late great communicator Marshall Rosenberg said: “all human beings have the same basic needs.”
In other words, Corbyn was speaking from a place of humanity – all that is best and ancient in us. Guru-Murthy was speaking from the opposite – categorizing, labelling, dividing and separating through concepts – everything that results in violence, enemies and the absurd position of treating a collection of ideas as if it is a singular consciousness.
To use an analogy, I disagree with and dislike a great many aspects of the Conservative Party – the lack of compassion, the prioritising of the well-being of the economy over the well-being of the human beings living here. But does that mean the Conservative Party is my enemy? No. It can’t be. Do I hate my many Tory friends? No! Imagine being asked “is the Conservative Party your friend?” What…? The Conservative Party is not a person. The Conservative Party is not a consciousness. The Conservative Party is not a being.
Ideas are not beings.
[edit: Krishnan Guru-Murthy himself pointed out that I’d written “hamas” as “hammas” which is a bit more like “hummus”, so I’ve corrected that]