Lisa Nandy – 40 – A ‘soft-left’ candidate in the Ed Miliband mould, Nandy took over from Grahame Morris in 2018 to chair Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East, following a visit to the West Bank, where she recalled seeing 15-year old Palestinian boys shackled in Israeli jails.
She sought assurances from the Government in July of this year that Jewish settlements in the West Bank would not be part of any future UK-Israel trade deal, and in September spoke alongside Diane Abbott MP and union leader Len McClusky at a Palestine Solidarity Campaign fringe event at the Labour Party conference.
However, she is also quick to rebuke those who deny Israel’s right to exist, as evidenced by some sharp social media exchanges, and spoke at a Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) event a couple of years ago.
Keir Starmer – 57 – He gets involved with Jewish community initiatives, including Mitzvah Day, and was one of the first big-hitters to say Ken Livingstone should be expelled. He later backed rule changes to allow the automatic expulsion of members found to have been antisemitic.
He also sided with the Jewish community against controversial North London coroner Mary Hassell over the prioritisation of bodies for burial for strictly Orthodox families, and has come out strongly against boycotts, supported the full adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism. He supported the Jewish community’s call for the Government to allow more unaccompanied child refugees into the UK.
Emily Thornberry – 59 – A supporter of Israel, she has nevertheless urged the Government to recognise the State of Palestine “while there is still a state left to recognise”.
She also opposed the UK’s decision to veto every Human Rights Council resolution on Israel under the ever-present Agenda Item 7, arguing that, by the same logic, the UK would have vetoed all HRC resolutions on South African apartheid and on Chile under General Pinochet.
In private, she speaks warmly about Israel, but strongly dislikes the Netanyahu government – in September of this year she accused Netanyahu of “trying to turn Israel into an apartheid state”.
Angela Rayner – 39 – In July she signed an Early Days Motion condemning Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem, together with Dame Margaret Hodge and former Stoke MP Ruth Smeeth.
She was criticised by Jewish groups for pledging to introduce a “common rulebook” for all public schools, which they said would “undermine the authority of faith schools”.
For Chanukah 2018 she spoke at the Board of Deputies’ reception, where she apologised for referring to Norman Finkelstein’s book ‘The Holocaust Industry’ as “a seminal work”. She criticised Labour’s record tackling antisemitism, calling it “appalling”.
Rebecca Long-Bailey – 40 – The favourite to win, JLB represents a large Jewish constituency in Salford and supported the full adoption of the IHRA definition but together with Momentum co-founder Jon Lansman, added a free speech on Israel caveat to the draft considered by Labour’s National Executive Committee.
Backed by some of Corbyn’s inner circle, including John McDonnell and Richard Burgon, she comes from the left of the party, but has delicately criticised the leadership’s handling of the antisemitism crisis.
She met the Jewish Labour Movement this summer and reportedly impressed with her honesty, saying she felt controversial MP Chris Williamson should be expelled hours after he was suspended.
Jess Phillips – 38 – She has been one of the loudest Labour critics of Corbyn over the party’s handling of antisemitism, and has made no secret of her dislike for the outgoing party leader, which has helped to make her JLM’s preferred candidate, just ahead of Keir Starmer. Unlike most other leadership contenders on this list, she is a member of Labour Friends of Israel, and hails from the ‘soft-left’ of the party.
She has even been accused by Labour members of being “paid by the Israel lobby”. That’s despite her criticising Israel’s deportation of Human Right Watch director Omar Shakir, which she said was aimed at “silencing human rights voices,” and pushing the Government to make more medical equipment available in Gaza.