Joan Ryan tells AIPAC: Labour ‘seeks to demonise and delegitimise Israel’

Joan Ryan tells AIPAC: Labour ‘seeks to demonise and delegitimise Israel’

Chair of Labour Friends of Israel tells major conference in support of the Jewish state that the party she left is 'riddled with antisemitism'

Joan Ryan speaking at AIPAC 2019
Joan Ryan speaking at AIPAC 2019

Former Labour MP Joan Ryan received repeated standing ovations as she became only the second Brit after ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair, to address the largest pro-Israel gathering in the United States, AIPAC conference.

Ryan, who chairs Labour Friends of Israel but who left to join The Independent Group (TIG) in parliament last month, said her former party “seeks to demonise and delegitimise Israel”.

She was speaking at the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on Sunday, the first MP to be given the floor in the main conference hall since Tony Blair.

Ryan argued that Labour was “riddled with antisemitism,” saying: “Once a close friend of Israel and an unwavering ally of British Jews, it’s been taken over by the far-left… led by a man who proudly declares Hamas and Hezbollah to be his friends”.

She added: “I would never have believed that the party that backed a Jewish homeland even before the Balfour Declaration would sink so low so fast.”

Ryan said she had received abuse and threats for leaving the Party, but to applause she added that “threats won’t stop me doing my job, standing with British Jews against the far-left and the far-right.”

The AIPAC conference will this week hear from US Vice-President Mike Pence, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel’s former IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, who is standing in Israel’s election next month.

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