Israeli Labour Party suspends ties with Corbyn

Israeli Labour Party suspends ties with Corbyn

Avi Gabbay writes letter to the UK Labour leader accusing him of allowing anti-Semitism in the party

Emily Thornberry with Avi Gabbay, the Labour leader in Israel
Emily Thornberry with Avi Gabbay, the Labour leader in Israel

Israel’s Labor Party this week said it wants nothing more to do with Jeremy Corbyn because it is disgusted with his inaction over anti-Semitism.

In a blunt and forthright letter, Israeli left-wing leader Avi Gabbay lambasted his British counterpart for “showing hostility to the [British] Jewish community” and “allowing anti-Semitic statements and actions”.

Gabbay said he was suspending links between his Labor Party and Corbyn’s office ahead of Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day in part because of Corbyn’s “very public hatred of Israeli government policies”.

Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky applauded Gabbay’s move, saying Corbyn had shown “tolerance of anti-Semitic statements”. He added: “Zionist parties cannot be allied to anti-Semitic actors.”

In his letter, Gabbay said: “It is my responsibility to acknowledge the hostility that you have shown to the Jewish community and the anti-Semitic statements and actions you have allowed as Leader of the Labour Party UK.

“This is in addition to your very public hatred of the policies of the Government of the State of Israel, many of which regard the security of our citizens and actions of our soldiers – policies where the opposition and coalition in Israel are aligned.”

The letter sent by Avi Gabbay to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

On Saturday, Corbyn condemned Israel’s “inhumane” actions at the border with Gaza, as video emerged of Israeli soldiers shooting Palestinians, with cheering when one is killed. Corbyn said Israel’s killing of protesters was “an outrage” and condemned what he described as the West’s “silence” over the issue.

Labour Friends of Israel chair Joan said “I fully understand why Mr Gabbay has taken this course of action and I am ashamed that one of our sister parties has no option but to take this unprecedented step”, while LFI director Jennifer Gerber said: “We fully understand why… [Corbyn] has failed to respond to their repeated offers of dialogue.”

Speaking on LBC Radio, James Sorene of UK-Israel think-tank BICOM said the Israeli Labor party was sending “a very powerful signal that they want action by Jeremy Corbyn and they want it now”.

He added: “They just feel in all conscience they can’t continue relations with the Labour leader or his office while there is this inaction against anti-Semitism within Labour.”

In response, Corbyn said: “I wish they would read Shami Chakrabarti’s report. I wish that they would understand that we are utterly determined in every way to drive out anti-Semitism from our society and where it exists in any party to drive it out, including my own… And I would be very happy to have that discussion with them.”

He added: “I think they should have done me the courtesy of asking me first.”

A Corbyn spokesman added that the Labour leader would be meetings representatives from the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council “to listen to their concerns and to discuss how to best root out anti-Semitism from our movement and society”.

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