The UK’s Labor Party Has Made Progress, but It’s Still Divided over Israel and Jews

October 27, 2021 | Luke Akehurst
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During the last week of September, Britain’s Labor party held its annual conference—a more substantive event than an American party convention. A year and a half have passed since the more moderate Keir Starmer took over the party leadership from the hard-left, obsessive Israel-hater Jeremy Corbyn, but the issue of anti-Semitism is still a live one, as Luke Akehurst reports, and indeed has come to symbolize the struggle between Corbyn’s faction, known as Momentum, and Starmer’s more mainstream supporters:

Even though Israel was only the subject of part of one short one-hour floor debate and a few fringe meetings, everything else the party does at its annual meetup reflects a political division in which the handling of anti-Semitism, and particularly anti-Semitic anti-Zionism, is a major factor. . . . The easiest way to work out which faction someone supports is the lanyard they are using to hold their conference pass. An unofficial Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) lanyard and you know the wearer is very likely to back the Corbynite group Momentum, an official one . . . and you know he is more likely to back Keir Starmer and the Labor to Win grouping.

Even the notorious hecklers during Starmer’s speech, though their slogans may have focused on the £15 minimum-wage demand, held up red cards distributed by “Labor against the Witch-hunt” (of anti-Semites), and a placard saying “Stop the Purge” (of anti-Semites).

[Thus they continue the] rhetoric of three years ago around anti-Semitism being a “scam,” “purges,” “witch-hunts,” and Zionist conspiracies to stop Corbyn from becoming prime minister. They may be increasingly marginalized and removed from power within Labor, but even if they are in the political wilderness, it’s not a healthy thing for them [to remain part of] the British body politic.

Starmer also managed to enact a series of procedural reforms that will make it far more difficult for a figure like Corbyn to take over the party again. Moreover, the conference passed a general policy statement—over the objections of the Corbynites—that condemned both Hamas rocket attacks on Israeli civilians and Israeli air strikes on Hamas rocket-launchers. Although this is surely an improvement over Corbyn speaking of Hamas and Hizballah as his friends, perhaps the new-and-improved Labor party isn’t quite a friend of the Jewish state either.

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