Israel Labor party cuts ties to Jeremy Corbyn for supporting Palestinian rights

Israeli Labor leader Avi Gabbay addressing a leading US Israel lobby group in March. (AIPAC)

The leader of the Israeli Labor Party on Tuesday wrote to Jeremy Corbyn suspending “all formal relations” with the UK Labour leader.

In a publicly released letter, Avi Gabbay cited Corbyn’s “hatred of the policies of the government of the state of Israel.”

On Saturday, Corbyn had sent a statement to a Palestine Solidarity Campaign demonstration in London condemning the “killing and wounding of yet more unarmed Palestinian protesters yesterday by Israeli forces in Gaza” during the last two weeks as “an outrage.”

Gabbay’s letter states that on “security” policies “the opposition and coalition are aligned” – effectively meaning that Palestinians can expect no end to Israel’s calculated and premeditated violence against unarmed civilians if Gabbay’s ostensibly center-left party wins power.

In an unprecedented warning on Sunday, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court stated that Israeli leaders could face trial for violence that has killed some 30 unarmed Palestinian protesters in Gaza since 30 March.

The current Israeli government is a hard-right coalition led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Labor is the main opposition bloc in the Israeli parliament.

Gabbay’s letter to Corbyn also cites “the hostility that you have shown to the Jewish community” in the UK.

Even before Corbyn became leader in 2015, the Labour Party has faced a rash of accusations that it has a major “anti-Semitism problem.”

But a witch hunt of exaggerated and sometimes outright fabricated allegations has been the most persistent right-wing scare story about Corbyn’s leadership.

Anti-Arab

Supposed Israeli “centrist” Avi Gabbay was chosen as leader of the party last year, despite not having been elected to Israel’s parliament.

Gabbay is a strong supporter of Israeli violence against Palestinians.

In October he described illegal Israeli settlements built on stolen Palestinian land in the West Bank as “the beautiful and devoted face of Zionism.”

Gabbay has also vowed that under his leadership, Israel’s government would never include parties representing Palestinian citizens of Israel.

The UK Labour Party did once have close ties to the Israeli Labor Party.

One UK Labour grandee in 1959 even made genocidal statements in favor of Israeli colonization of Palestinian land and of the right of “the white man” to “civilize these continents by physically occupying them, even at the cost of wiping out the aboriginal population.”

This trend has declined over the decades as the wider left became more critical of Israel.

“Not going anywhere”

Corbyn himself has been a veteran solidarity activist for Palestinian liberation. But under pressure from the Israel lobby he has watered down many of his previous positions.

Corbyn’s shadow foreign minister Emily Thornberry, however, is a supporter of Labour Friends of Israel, and last year pushed Israeli government talking points and racist tropes.

Labour Friends of Israel on Tuesday responded to Gabbay’s letter saying “we fully understand” why he had made the move. The group accused Corbyn of failing to “respond to their repeated offers of dialogue, including invitations to host him at Yad Vashem, Israel’s national Holocaust museum,” and said its “relationship with the Israeli Labor Party remains unaffected.”

The Jewish Labour Movement, another pro-Israel group, responded: “Clearly this proves that the Jewish Labour Movement’s work is more important than ever, and we’re not going anywhere.”

A spokesperson for Jeremy Corbyn declined to comment on the Israeli Labour Party. The spokesperson did repeat, yet again, that Corbyn is a “militant opponent of antisemitism.”

Updated since publication.

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Appalled by this. Utterly appalled and disgusted. Have you seen letter from Joan Ryan MP? After she got that lady suspended by making up stories about A-S. If your folk hadn't filmed it, that lady would never have been allowed back into Labour Party. What happens now Asa? Does this hatred of all decent Labour members who have never in their lives been antisemitic tarnished forever? Mr Corbyn is good man and never ever been antisemitic. We all know why this is happening. Now we are all silenced? Forever? So ashamed of this country. We attack a man of integrity but say nothing about Tories who are dismantling everything that makes this country great. Thank you Asa for all you are doing. Sincerely.

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So the Labour Friends of Israel invited Corbyn to tour Yad Vashem? Well, why not arrange an invitation to Gaza for the likes of Ruth Smeeth, Luciana Berger and the rest of the PLP Labour Zionist delegation to visit Gaza for a couple of weeks and tour the West Bank? Of course, gentiles will have to be separated from Jews and conducted around using secondary roads in "Judea and Samaria". That form of segregation won't be a problem, though, once they enter Gaza. Everybody there is pretty much equal, shivering in the dark waiting for the next bomb to fall. In fact, I'd like to propose that the entire Board of Deputies of British Jews experience first hand what it's like to live under and not on top of an apartheid system. Go to Gaza, President Arkush, and see what all the fuss is about.

As for Avi Gabbay, he's now severed a set of ties which didn't exist. That's one step beyond throwing your toys out of the pram. More a matter of just throwing shapes.

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Asa Winstanley

Asa Winstanley's picture

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist and associate editor with The Electronic Intifada. He lives in London. Biography here.