Keir Starmer tilts Labour sharply towards Israel

Keir Starmer addresses a Labour Party event in November 2019.

Han Yan Xinhua

“I support Zionism without qualification” – those are the words of the UK Labour Party’s new leader, Keir Starmer.

Starmer won the membership election to succeed left-winger and Palestine solidarity veteran Jeremy Corbyn last weekend.

His first act as leader has been to declare the party’s allegiance to the Israel lobby, and to signal an impending purge of the left wing of the party membership under the pretext of combating “Labour anti-Semitism.”

Throughout his four and a half years as Labour leader, Corbyn was incessantly defamed with a manufactured anti-Semitism crisis by the the Israel lobby and by the right wing of his own party.

“Anti-Semitism has been a stain on our party,” Starmer claimed in his victory speech, giving full credence to the smears against his predecessor.

“On behalf of the Labour Party, I am sorry.”

Labour lawmakers – who are overwhelmingly right wing – never accepted the result of the democratic leadership election which brought Corbyn to national prominence in 2015, and repeatedly attempted to overthrow him.

They finally succeeded last December. After the party’s defeat in the general election, Corbyn announced he would be stepping down.

Polling suggested that the Labour anti-Semitism smear campaign had a major impact on the general election outcome.

The Israel lobby was jubilant, with one major group gloating that they had “slaughtered” Corbyn.

But Labour members never accepted the false narrative.

“Invented or wildly exaggerated”

A major poll after the general election found that almost three quarters of them thought the crisis had been “invented or wildly exaggerated.”

The figure was even higher – 92 percent – among members of Momentum, the party faction founded to back Corbyn.

Starmer in his speech paid tribute to Corbyn as his “friend” and promised to unite the party.

But he immediately followed with his comments about anti-Semitism, meaning the apology amounted to a swipe at Corbyn and the left-wing grasroots membership that brought him to power.

“I will tear out this poison by its roots,” Starmer said, “and judge success by the return of our Jewish members and those who felt that they could no longer support us.”

That statement erases the many Jewish members who remained loyal to the party, and who have spoken out consistently against the campaign to weaponize anti-Semitism to oust Corbyn and crush solidarity for Palestinian rights.

The members Starmer is seeking to rehabilitate are likely leading Israel lobbyists who stepped down as Labour MPs – such as Joan Ryan and Louise Ellman.

Starmer’s declaration of allegiance to the Israel lobby was the only statement of substance in his pre-recorded victory speech.

Since then – despite the global coronavirus pandemic and millions of newly unemployed – he has made reassuring the Israel lobby his number one priority.

The very same day, Starmer wrote to the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, an Israel lobby group which had been vehemently anti-Corbyn, repeating his apology.

He also reiterated an earlier commitment to a list of demands by the Board of Deputies that the new leader should purge the party membership.

“Within hours of the result”

Starmer has also been courting leaders of the UK’s Israel lobby since winning the leadership.

“Within hours of the result, Keir Starmer called me to discuss anti-Jewish hate in the Labour Party,” wrote former Labour lawmaker Ruth Smeeth, in a Times of Israel blog post.

A former professional Israel lobbyist, Smeeth has been one of Corbyn’s bitterest opponents.

On Tuesday, Starmer wrote another simpering apology to the Israel lobby, published in both the Evening Standard and the anti-Palestinian newspaper, The Jewish Chronicle.

“Once the coronavirus pandemic is over,” he wrote, “I will be closing the Labour Party’s offices for a day and inviting representatives of the Jewish community to come in and facilitate a day’s training for all members of staff on anti-Semitism.”

Even under Corbyn, Labour adopted a misleading and politically motivated redefintion of anti-Semitism which deliberately conflates Palestine solidarity activism with anti-Jewish racism.

The Board of Deputies’ demands included the stipulation that training on anti-Semitism in the party be run only by the Jewish Labour Movement and not “fringe organizations” – a veiled reference to left-wing pro-Corbyn group, Jewish Voice for Labour.

Founded in 2004, the Jewish Labour Movement had been a moribund group, but was resurrected by pro-Israel activists in September 2015, specifically to fight Corbyn.

The Jewish Labour Movement worked in close coordination with the Israeli embassy.

It played a leading role in promoting the Labour anti-Semitism smear campaign.

Corbyn out of Labour?

Starmer held a virtual meeting on Tuesday with leaders of the UK’s top pro-Israel groups, including the Jewish Labour Movement, the Board of Deputies, the Community Security Trust and the Jewish Leadership Council.

The lobbyists came out of this meeting singing Starmer’s praises.

But other Israel lobby factions will not be satisfied by the victory over Corbyn.

The badly misnamed Campaign Against Antisemitism (which is actually a campaign against Palestinians) has decreed that the “real litmus test” for the new Labour leader will be “disciplining Jeremy Corbyn.”

“Corbyn must be made to bear personal responsibility,” the group wrote. “This will send a message to other culpable MPs, officials and members that they cannot hide.”

Starmer’s declarations of loyalty to Zionism are for some only a starter.

Labour’s new leader will soon learn the lesson that Corbyn did not heed: No amount of capitulation to the pro-Israel lobby can ever be enough.

These implacable foes of basic human rights and dignity for the Palestinian people take every concession as an invitation to demand more.

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Comments

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This needed to be said. There is something rotten in British politics that it should have allowed, indeed encouraged, this attack on democracy. What some people will do for power and influence just beggars belief. Any politician putting the support of a foreign nation ahead of British democracy should lose their position immediately and suffer further consequences.

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If this is true, I am very disappointed that Mr Starmer holds these unacceptable views. I considered him to be someone who could unite the Labour Party rather than be divisive which is why I voted for him.

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Veronica,you were fooled like many Labour Party members who didn't see wherew each candidte stood. Only Richard Burgon standing for deputy expressed a clear Socialist position. Starmer doesn't know the meaning of Socialism nor understand the class basis on which the Labour party was founded. He will compromose with the Right forever in the name of a non- existent Unity

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Zionism and pogroms are racist hate crimes. For someone to boast openly, cravenly and proudly that they support such horrid things should show those still in denial the true nature of the British Labour Party and where it is going. Equality, justice and peace are not on the table, but oppression is.

Look closely at Starmtrooper's cold visage. In it one sees seven shots in the back of the head of Jean Charles de Menezes, the ashen dead face of Ian Tomlinson (a father of nine) and tortured Julian Assange still unjustly imprisoned at Belmarsh... and that is just to start. No this is not going to end well for Labour or Britain. Stay strong everyone.

Free Julian Assange, Free Palestine... FREE THEM NOW!

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In Britain, as here in the US, the first loyalty of Zionists is to no nation but Israel. With explicit media coordination, in Britain as well as in the US, politicians in both countries are expected to give voice and vote as prescribed by Israel. No amount of past support for Israel's demands is ever going to be enough; all that matters is the puppetry that insists on demonstrated loyalty to the next new demand, whatever it is.

Israel's big goal, as far as I can tell, is to manipulate the US and other democracies forever.

Israel will continue to assail the humiliated Corbyn, as this is their best stratigem for keeping his already pliable successor in line

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At last we see the end of the political Left - not only Communism but the Reformist Left too, raddled by its commitment to Zionism and its hypocrisy.

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If one means by that the end of Socialism, in the spirit of Eugene Victor Debs, NO WAY, NO HOW. Zionism goes against the underlying tenets and principles of Socialism.

PS. As to the term itself, perhaps the seating arrangement of the French National Assembly of the 1780's and 1790's is no longer applicable. The word may be due a revamping.

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Now that Israel has completely triumphed over the Labour Party (not just Starmer;
all leadership candidates pledged allegiance to Israel by endorsing the IHRA definition),
the party is no longer a beacon of hope internationally or domestically. The Jewish Chronicle
can justly celebrate its success; though now closing in bankruptcy, it achieved its goal.

The left will rise again, Sam Dingle, but maybe not in the Labour Party or Britain.
In parts of Europe, at least, the pendulum seems to have stopped swinging rightward.

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I joined Labour Party because of Jeremy Corbyn and his ideology but I think this is the right time to leave Labour Party, newly elected leader is dictating the party on the wrong direction.
Good bye Labour!

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I find that with Starmer now leader I can no longer be a Labour member.
We the staunch Socialist Members need to start a new party. I will not be associated with a murderous government that continually commits genocide.
I was going to try and stay but this is the last straw. BDS
ANTIZIONISM IS NOT ANTISEMITISIM

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In Britain, as here in the US, the first loyalty of Zionists is to no nation but Israel. With explicit media coordination, in Britain as well as in the US, politicians in both countries are expected to give voice and vote as prescribed by Israel. No amount of past support for Israel's demands is ever going to be enough; all that matters is the puppetry that insists on demonstrated loyalty to the next new demand, whatever it is.

Israel's big goal, as far as I can tell, is to manipulate the US and other democracies forever.

Israel will continue to assail the humiliated Corbyn, as this is their best stratigem for keeping his already pliable successor in line

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That solidarity with Palestinians in pressing for their human and civil/political rights inside both Israel and in the illegally Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories can be twisted into repugnant anti-Semitism can only happen when an electorate is either too docile and acquiescent...or plainly not persicacious enough to understand the difference.

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Important
Sent

Where now for Labour?

Dear Keir Starmer,
I was shocked and appalled to hear that you have had nothing to say about Israeli Apartheid and the continuing persecution of the Palestinian people in your opening comments after the results of the Labour leadership election was announced.

I was under the impression that you are a lawyer, and therefore assumed that you would campaign to uphold international law and human rights.I seem to have been wrong.

You will be aware that the State of Israel has been called to account on numerous occasions for its human rights abuses and its many infringements of basic international law in Palestine. It therefore remains a puzzle to me that you align yourself with an organisation whose track record of anti-Labour activity is well-known and Zionist lobbying. I refer, of course, to the Board of Deputies of British Jews.
Your cow-towing (and I choose my words advisedly) to this organisation raises a number of alarming questions for the Labour Party. Perhaps you could answer the following.
What makes you think that this organisation is at all representative of British Jews?
What gives the BOD the right to dictate via its “Ten Pledges” how a major British political party should conduct its affairs?
What is your rational for accepting the IHRA definition of ant-semitism, which has been condemned by prominent judges as well as its original author as having no legal credibility whatsoever ? Can you name me one case when this def

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If you don't get expelled, you should stay and fight. Put a resolution to your branch calling for the 10 pledges to be rejected. Get a resolution of the same kind to Conference.
In 1985 Israel passed legislation banning political parties which reject the idea of Israel as "the State of the Jewish people" in Israel or the diaspora. The Basic Law says this: "A list of candidates shall not participate in elections to the Knesset if there exists, in its objects or actions, expressly or impliedly, one of the following: (1) the rejection of the existence of the State of Israel as the State of the Jewish people.." What this means is that to propose that the Israeli State is the State of citizens bars you from contesting elections ie the standard definition of democracy does not apply in Israel. In 1989 this law was tested when the High Court forbade the Progressive List for Peace from standing because it proposed equality of citizenship for Jews and Arabs. Equality of citizenship is a defining feature of democracy. When Starmer describes himself as a Zionist, does he mean he accepts Israel's denial of this? Given that a sensible definition of Zionism is the policies of the Israeli State since 1948, it would appear he does. How can he claim to stand for democracy, let alone democratic equality, if he embraces the Israeli State's refusal of one of its essential tenets? He appears to be defending theocracy, or something akin. Nahum Goldmann said the only chance for Israeli survival was acceptance of Palestinian rights and called for "a viable Jewish State in an adequate area of Palestine."Even that seems beyond Starmer. He has committed Labour to the racist expansion Goldmann saw as suicidal by accepting the B o D's pledges. As Chomsky has argued for decades, that is not how friends of Israel behave. Nor how friends of democracy behave. Starmer's capitulation to bigoted Zionism is an insult to democracy. All democrats must fight back.

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I left the party months ago when it became crystal clear that the Zionist / Friends of Israel hatchet job on Corbyn was unstoppable. Labour has no future, despite innumerable attempts by good honest members to keep it alive against such a pernicious onslaught. The victory belongs to those who condone the vicious assault on the Palestinian people. Time to abandon Labour to its ignominy and move on to a force for the good of all humankind, not just those who will use their power and influence to subvert democracy and freedom.
As for the current crop of careerist MPs who support ongoing wars and conflict, in order to slide effortlessly from Parliament to other forms of influence, I have nothing but contempt. I include our own excuse for a ‘humane’ being in Manchester for this; she and her duplicitous kind have won the day, at least for now, but should know that they are on borrowed time. Truth and justice will prevail.

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Now I finally understand why British politics always make me sick. Not only justifying their nauseating (neo) colonial policies, but also refusing to take responsibility for their past crimes that have plagued millions as the Palestinians, the Indians, the Pakistanis, the Bangladeshi and the Kenyans today.

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Yesterday, by email they came for me. A loyal foot soldier for Corbyn. I spent more time battling Centrists than Tories over the last years. They found my Facebook posts from 2017. I shall stand on the shoulders of Livingstone, Walker, Wadsworth, Williamson and winstanley

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A very apt comment, David. Shades of darker times.Good luck in your future journey, mate. Can you give us more details of your particular part in the Purge.

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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.