Jeremy Corbyn’s Hold over the British Labor Party Is Over, but Anti-Zionism May Linger On

April 6 2020

On Saturday, the UK’s Labor party announced that it had elected Keir Starmer as its new leader—signaling the defeat of the viciously anti-Israel, and often anti-Semitic, faction of the party led by the outgoing leader Jeremy Corbyn. In his victory speech, Starmer made a point of pledging to “tear out this poison [of anti-Semitism] by its roots and judge success by the return of Jewish members” to the party’s ranks. Luke Akehurst does not, however, expect Starmer to bring about a complete shift in the party’s attitudes toward the Jewish state:

It isn’t realistic to expect the reversal of the changes Corbyn brought to the Labor party’s platform, such as support for boycotts [of Jewish businesses in the West Bank] and an embargo on arms sales [to Israel], because Starmer will have other policy priorities; he won’t be looking for confrontation on foreign policy at party conferences as he will want to emphasize unity and carry the left-wing of his own support base with him. [Furthermore], he won’t have the votes to win any fights on these issues.

But we can expect a return to some kind of normalcy in terms of Labor’s relationship with Israel, and with . . . Labor’s sister parties there. We might expect Starmer to make a fairly early trip to Israel and the West Bank, once the coronavirus travel restrictions are lifted, to meet Israeli and Palestinian counterparts [and] to take up the invitation to visit Yad Vashem from the former leader of Israel’s Labor party, Isaac Herzog, that Corbyn ignored.

I don’t think we will see any of the inflammatory rhetoric of the Corbyn era, or tolerance of the waving of hundreds of Palestinian flags at party conferences—the new leadership will probably want to try to avoid ever debating the topic again.

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Read more at Fathom

More about: Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism, Jeremy Corbyn, Labor Party (UK)

 

Europe-Israel Relations Have Been Transformed

On Monday, Israel and the EU held their first “association council” meeting since 2012, resuming what was once an annual event, equivalent to the meetings Brussels conducts with many other countries. Although the summit didn’t produce any major agreements or diplomatic breakthroughs, writes Shany Mor, it is a sign of a dramatic change that has occurred over the past decade. The very fact that the discussion focused on energy, counterterrorism, military technology, and the situation in Ukraine—rather than on the Israel-Palestinian conflict—is evidence of this change:

Israel is no longer the isolated and boycotted outpost in the Middle East that it was for most of its history. It has peace treaties with six Arab states now, four of which were signed since the last association council meeting. There are direct flights from Tel Aviv to major cities in the region and a burgeoning trade between Israel and Gulf monarchies, including those without official relations.

It is a player in the regional alliance systems of both the Gulf and the eastern Mediterranean, just as it has also become a net energy exporter due to the discovery of large gas deposits of its shoreline. None of this was the case at the last council meeting in 2012. [Moreover], Israel has cultivated deep ties with a number of new member states in the EU from Central and Eastern Europe, whose presence in Brussels bridges cultural ideological gaps that were once much wider.

Beyond the diplomatic shifts, however, is an even larger change that has happened in European-Israeli relations. The tiny Israel defined by its conflict with the Arabs that Europeans once knew is no more. When the first Cooperation Agreement [between Israel and the EU’s precursor] was signed in 1975, Israel, with its three million people, was smaller than all the European member states save Luxembourg. Sometime in the next two years, the Israeli population will cross the 10 million mark, making it significantly larger than Ireland, Denmark, Finland, and Austria (among others), and roughly equal in population to Greece, Portugal, and Sweden.

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Abraham Accords, Europe and Israel, European Union, Israeli gas