Champion of Palestinian rights wins leadership of UK Labour Party

Jeremy Corbyn, center, attends a rally in London against Israel’s bombing of Gaza, 26 July 2014. The left-wing lawmaker has been elected leader of the UK’s main opposition Labour Party.

Mark Esper Polaris

In a stunning upset, Jeremy Corbyn has been elected to lead the UK Labour Party.

The veteran left-wing lawmaker and vocal supporter of Palestinian rights took almost 60 percent of the vote, trouncing the establishment candidates Yvette Cooper, Andy Burnham and Liz Kendall.

Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair had warned that the party would face “annihilation” if Corbyn won.

But that did not deter more than 250,000 people who voted for Corbyn in the first ever one-person, one-vote internal party election of its kind.

The new system allowed members of the public to sign up as registered supporters for a token payment of £3 ($5), in addition to regular dues-paying party members and affiliated supporters (mostly trade union members). Corbyn won in all three sectors of the party.

Previous leaders have been chosen by an electoral college that gave greater weight to the votes of lawmakers and trade unions.

In a victory speech to an ecstatic crowd at a special party conference in London, Corbyn reiterated key themes of his campaign: social solidarity and working to eradicate poverty at home, and championing peace abroad.

Corbyn said his first act as leader would be to attend a rally in London to support refugees who have been arriving in Europe often to a cold and cruel welcome from EU governments.

“Let’s deal with the refugee crisis with humanity, with support, with help, with compassion,” Corbyn said, “but recognize that going to war creates a legacy of bitterness and problems.”

The Labour Party’s record has been badly tainted by Blair’s decision to take the UK to war in Iraq in 2003, but Corbyn has signalled a decisive shift.

“Let us be a force for change in the world, a force for humanity in the world, a force for peace in the world,” the new leader added.

Israel lobby smears

Corbyn’s support for Palestinian rights is causing alarm in Israel. An article on his win in Haaretz, for example, derides him as “a full-paid member of every fashionable cause of the radical-left” and claims falsely that he offers “unquestioning support for Holocaust deniers and blood libelers – as long as they’re ‘pro-Palestinian.’”

During the months-long campaign, pro-Israel groups made extraordinary efforts to tar Corbyn in this manner as an anti-Jewish bigot, despite his decades as an anti-racism campaigner.

But as The Electronic Intifada’s Asa Winstanley showed, these baseless and scurrilous attacks were due to Corbyn’s strong record of Palestine solidarity work.

Support for Palestine

It is not hard to understand why Israel and its supporters will be so disturbed by Corbyn’s win.

He is a patron of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and is well known as an active supporter of Palestinian rights.

In an exclusive interview with The Electronic Intifada last month, Corbyn endorsed key elements of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel and called for a two-way arms embargo.

He added that Israeli universities involved in arms research should be boycotted.

Corbyn told The Electronic Intifada his involvement in the movement took off after he entered parliament in 1983. He has visited Palestine nine times, as well as refugee camps in Lebanon and Syria.

The Labour Party leader emphasized that the Palestinian right to return was “the key” to a solution and has said negotiations should include the Palestinian and Lebanese organizations Hamas and Hizballah.

He speaks with a clarity on Palestine arguably unmatched by any major party leader in Europe.

Corbyn’s victory is a measure of how mainstream support for Palestinian rights has become in the UK.

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Comments

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Positivity comes!
Let's hope he will continue with solidarity with Palestine

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I am very please to see a major political figure arise in Britain who supports the Palestinian cause. I believe we will see more and more political leaders elected in Europe who oppose the Israel's brutal treatment of the Palestinians and that will be a very good thing. Too bad the American Socialist Bernie Sanders is not of this personal and political character. Sanders is a rabid supporter of Israel and a defender of Israel's savage attacks on Gaza. Sanders is said to be a dual citizen of Israel.

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So Glad to see this win . Such a fresh voice for peace in the midst of warmongers . It is time that we all realize that peace cannot be achieved through the barrel of the gun . And for those that argue that we must fight them there instead of here , I would submit that if we were not there to begin with ,they would not come here to interfere in our affairs. There ,meaning in other nation's lands and they , meaning those that seek revenge because we ,the West , went into other nation's lands to subjugate others.

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Let's hope that Mr. Jeremy Corbyn does not turn out to be another Zionist Socialist François Hollande. True, given his record and anti-racist activities, there seems little chance of that. Hollande is a miserable leader thoroughly despised by his own countrymen, a blatantly racist imperlialist who coordinates with the worst political elements on the world stage. Like Britain, France has a history of terrorism dating long before its support for the foreign Wahhabi-Takfiris mercenary "opposition" in Syria. It conducted terrorist campaigns against both Greenpeace and Syria in the 1970s and 1980s. Around 1978, a French bomb killed dozens of civilizans Damascus. Those years of bombings and assassinations in Syria were only preparation for the Muslim Brotherhood's violent uprising (orchestrated by Saudi Arabia and Israel) just before Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982.

Today Hollande is one of the staunchest allies of the Wahhabi Saudis and the GCC, next to Israel. Birds of a feather stick together.

In any case, Corbyn's victory, especially if it is crowned with a win at the polls later, clearly indicates Apartheid 's narrowing field of vision and where it is next headed. This vile little race colony in Palestine will be taken down sooner or later. Its Zionist leaders and the whole international Zionist movement will be pulled by the hair scratching and screaming to courts for war criminals.

Let us take heart, because the fall of Apartheid Israel will translate into more calm for the world. As soon as they find the courage, Great Britain, France and the United States should just admit that it has been a disasterous and historic mistake to create a Jewish-only state on the ruins of another people, and to justify this with a fake claim of compensating Jews for crimes committed in Europe.

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I've never been more excited about an election in another country. I told many friends Jeremy Corbyn would be chosen but no one believed it. This is one giantic step forward. Others will follow.

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If you are looking for an anti War party look at UKIP, Corbyn more than likely will be ousted by the painful fact that he may be unable to form a shadow Government.

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It's a great day for Labour (though the Blairites don't accept the result) and a great day for the trade union movement which made such a difference in backing Jeremy Corbyn. The media did everything possible to smear the man, and this is the result- a huge endorsement. Liz Kendall, Tony Blair's hand-picked choice, tallied 4.5%. And that's the level of support remaining in the party as a whole for the Vicar. He's toast, albeit gilded, not buttered.

I hope that Palestinians can take some encouragement from this victory for anti-imperialism by a candidate who has sought to defend their rights at every turn for thirty years. There are no depths of abuse that will not be quarried by the Tory press (which includes the BBC) but much of the public is fed up with the lies and omissions of those right wing activists better known as "objective journalists". Yesterday's Telegraph contained an allusion to the Khmer Rouge in describing Corbyn's victory. It's that kind of rancid hysteria on the part of the rich, the xenophobes, and the Zionists that fails to reckon with the change taking place. For the first time in many people's lives, voters will have a real choice in elections to come. At last a genuine challenge from within the political system will be aimed at neoliberalism, at warmongering, at the dispossession of the Palestinian people. Well done, Jeremy Corbyn. Well done, Labour.

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The twelve percent of Israelis that are Zionist have stood many dominoes up on end against the Palestinian people. The first of these has just fallen. It is just, and long overdue.

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ATTENTION DANGER

Que Jeremy Corbyn fasse attention à sa vie, car chez les israelien, ils y a des fanatiques pires que chez DAESH (peut-etre).

Qu'il soit bien protégé car les CONS, les IMBECILES, sont encore très nombreux sur la planète TERRE...

Faite lui passer le message...!

merci

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Jeremy Corbyn be careful that his life because among Israeli, they are worse than fanatics DAESH (maybe).

It is well protected because the CONS, the FOOL, are still many on the planet EARTH ...

Made him pass the message ...!

Thank you

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Yes, the anti-Corbynists are out to massacre his reputation, the despicable slander by Anshel Pfeiffer in Haaretz is another desperate attempt, but that began before he was elected and see what happened. It is truly a great moment for Britain, for Palestinians and the Middle East - including Israel, and for us all.
In Germany one of the very few courageous and much maligned voices for Palestine, Annette Groth, was the only politician to actually go to Hungary, to Austria, to see the thousands of war refugees and speak out for them. She was interviewed on Democracy Now! http://www.democracynow.org/20...

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The UK has a little (!) to do with the encouragement of
Zionism. The ardent anti-Semitic James Arthur Balfour
pledged Zionists a Jewish "home" (="state") in 1917
after his Alien Law restricting Jewish entrance to
the UK. Was that 1903? I am uncertain....

It should be noted that Zionism following the
exclusivism of "Pan-Germanism" which was
a starting point for "the father of Zionism" (Theodor Herzl)
emphasized the exclusivity of this Jewish-
controlled territory for those of Jewish blood
and ancestry the world over first was
piggy-backed on the powerful nations of the
world, first the UK, then the US morphed into
revisionism. This exclusivism was ordained
by divinity just as the violent battles of the
Israelites according to Scripture. (See Old Testament.)

The revisionist view which today has a hold
on Israeli's and which has in the manner of Israelites
totally conquered any and all indigenous groups
is also the mainstream of international Judaism
and supposedly enlightened men and women.
(See Michael Prior CM, THE BIBLE AND COLONIALISM:
A MORAL CRITIQUE).

I wish Mr. Corbyn and everyone in the UK the best in
leading us all toward the realities of Zionist oppression.
It seems that win or lose he has already begun this
in his life.

----Peter Loeb, Boston, MA USA

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I feel this chance, coming so close to Yom Kippur, especially heart lifting. As an anti-zionist Jew, black-balled by the left here in Mtl. I have acted as if I were struggling for my own, criticizing my own as I would any other. Because, it what I know of being a Jew, what Yom Kippur privileges me with the way and there-fore the means to change and be a righteous human being of value to any good other. Mr. Corbyn offers as much a good life to me and mine as he does the Palestinians, perhaps more..the chance to regain my good identity.

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Very well said, and clearly from the heart. Jews all over the world are speaking out on behalf of Palestinian rights. Much respect.

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Us anti-zionists feel so isolated.

I commend Corbyn along with you. But be forewarned: in
the world of politics no single actor(politician) ever comes
out to be a complete savior.

The moral outrage we feel as one and our responsibilities
are our own in the end. "Each according to his ability..."

Once more, thanks for your courage.

---Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

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JC will crumple like a cheap tent when struck by the first Zionist puff. Can't wait to see all the circumlocutions, evasions, deft deflections, and qualifications that will come out his mouth when called upon to clarify how deep his friendship really is with Hamas and Hizbollah. He is the best gift the Tories could ever have and they have been popping champagne non-stop since his election.

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To the contrary, Corbyn has never hesitated to put himself forth quite publicly in his support for the Palestinians and the call for Israel to answer to the charges of war crimes against the brutally occupied and oppressed Palestinians. The endless and repetitive military assaults against the defenseless Gazans was a big part in his quite impressive win. The world is changing. The absence of moral decency in Israel has become quite obvious. The defeat of Netanyahu and zionism's huge lobby in the US is hand in hand with Corbyn's big win in Britain.

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You wish. Fortunately for you, you're on the wrong track altogether, as you will see in the not too distant future.
You, like most people, probably lump Hamas and Hizbollah in one bag and demonise the lot, yet know practically nothing about them. It may be almost impossible for you to imagine that there are an increasing number of world citizens who do know, who also know a good deal about the history of Israel and Zionism, and who consider the latter even worse than H. and H. because of its unrelenting abuse of power, browbeating our governments, lies, racism and brute force.
There is nothing wrong with talking to any group - that does not entail agreement in any human rights abuse.

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Always nice getting the word from an impartial source. By the way, how's the weather in Israel? I hear it's oppressive.

As long as you're happy to raise the issue of Hamas (and its objectionable charter is implied if not mentioned), here are the central elements of Likud's 1999 platform:

a. “The Jordan river will be the permanent eastern border of the State of Israel.”
b. “Jerusalem is the eternal, united capital of the State of Israel and only of Israel.
The government will flatly reject Palestinian proposals to divide Jerusalem”
c. “The Government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river.”
d. “The Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza are the realization of Zionist values. Settlement of the land is a clear expression of the unassailable right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel and constitutes an important asset in the defense of the vital interests of the State of Israel. The Likud will continue to strengthen and develop these communities and will prevent their uprooting."

A fine basis for "peace", isn't it? See anything you like?

Ali Abunimah

Ali Abunimah's picture

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.