From the moment the Jewish community hustings at JW3 was announced, days after Jeremy Corbyn was forced to defend uttering the word ‘friends’ in reference to Hamas and Hezbollah, there was only one candidate on everyone’s lips. So, how to assess what was said by the Islington MP?
Some may have expected Corbyn to go the whole hog when it comes to boycotts of Israel. He didn’t, making clear he doesn’t endorse academic bans, while still raising the spectre of support for economic action and a boycott of West Bank goods. It’s a sad state of affairs when this can be interpreted by some as a chink of light.
The truth is that Corbyn, were he to become head of his party, would be the only mainstream political leader to support boycotts of any description. His response to a question on Hamas and concerns over Stop the War Coalition’s links to al Quds Day rally (on which a definitive answer is still awaited) will also have done about as much to allay fears among some of Israel’s supporters as yesterday’s YouGov poll, giving the left wing politician a sizeable lead over Andy Burnham on first and second preference votes.
Many experts and supporters of the party still insist Corbyn won’t win – a view shared by the bookies – but one thing’s for sure if he does: if the relationship between the community and the party was characterised by tension during the latter stages of Ed Miliband’s leadership, we haven’t seen anything yet.