Britain’s Conservative prime minister Theresa May led her country in celebrating the centennial of the Balfour Declaration at a commemorative dinner in November, but Jeremy Corbyn, the notoriously hard-left and anti-Israel leader of the Labor party, declined to attend. Although Labor’s shadow foreign secretary did attend, she publicly asserted her disapproval of the occasion and said that the “most important way” for Britain to mark the anniversary would have been “to recognize Palestine.” Indeed, Simon Gordon writes, anti-Zionism has become an increasingly powerful force in British politics—especially, but not exclusively, on the left:
Less than a week after the Balfour centenary, a diplomatic scandal involving senior Israeli officials precipitated the resignation of Secretary of State for International Development Priti Patel. One of the most outspoken supporters of Israel in the cabinet, Patel had [allegedly] been meeting Israeli ministers, including Benjamin Netanyahu, behind the foreign secretary’s back, while formally on vacation. . . . But the official version of events was soon called into question. The Jewish Chronicle, citing sources in Downing Street, reported that Patel’s unofficial diplomacy in Israel took place with the consent of the prime minister, who had asked her not to disclose the meetings. The truth of the matter remains unclear. But would a breach of diplomatic protocol involving another country have provoked the same response?
If this was the stance of a relatively Israel-friendly Tory government, what of Labor?
A win for Corbyn, the most left-wing Labor leader in more than 30 years, would radically reverse Britain’s approach to the Middle East. Nor has Labor changed its spots overnight. Since Tony Blair’s resignation in 2007—in part precipitated by his defense of Israel’s 2006 campaign in Lebanon—the party has continually moved to the left in both domestic and foreign policy. . . .
In contrast to [the Conservative former prime minister David] Cameron, [the former Labor leader Edward] Miliband condemned the IDF during Operation Protective Edge [in Gaza]. Two months later, he whipped Labor MPs to back a nonbinding parliamentary motion on the unilateral recognition of Palestine. Whether or not Corbyn makes it to 10 Downing Street, its next Labor occupant is likely to be far less friendly toward Israel than any prime minister since . . . the early 1970s.