Although I’m not in the UK, I’ve got the impression from reading posts and comments by others at Harry’s Place that the Labour party has become downright inhospitable for anyone who considers themselves a Zionist or a friend of Israel. I’ve got the idea that the party is now essentially controlled by people who are hostile to Israel– not just the current Israeli government, but Israel itself.
So I’ll admit to surprise at this report from LabourList:
People who believe Israel does not have the right to exist should be drummed out of the Labour Party, Emily Thornberry said today.
The shadow foreign secretary also used a speech to mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration – which enshrined Britain’s support for a Jewish national homeland – to condemn the “scourge” of anti-Semitism.
Thornberry, one of Jeremy Corbyn’s closest allies, was clear to repeat Labour’s longstanding call for international recognition for a Palestinian state living alongside an Israel in “peace and security”.
She was speaking after Theresa May met Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, before a dinner timed to recognise the Balfour anniversary tonight.
Corbyn is not attending the dinner and asked Thornberry to attend in his place.
“As we look back over these past 100 years, we must also salute the resilience and strength of the Israeli State and the Israeli people against all those who have sought to harm and destroy them: a resilience that has had constantly to adapt as the threats over the years have changed from the conventional warfare of 50 years ago to the ever-shifting tactics of terrorists today,” Thornberry said today.
So what does this mean? Taken at face value, Thornberry’s statement suggests she believes anti-Zionism within Labour should not be tolerated. Did Corbyn approve this welcome development? If not, how will he and his anti-Zionist supporters react? How does this fit in with the reinstatement to the party of the anti-Zionist Moshe Machover? And perhaps most important, is Thornberry willing to go to the mat on this? Beyond rhetoric, how far is she willing to take it?