Labour’s Israel lobby plans to relaunch campaign against Corbyn

Labour Friends of Israel chair Joan Ryan, center, suggested Theresa May would be a better prime minister than Jeremy Corbyn. (Facebook)

“I was wrong about Jeremy Corbyn” said failed Labour leadership challenger Owen Smith the day after the UK general election.

Corbyn gained 30 seats for Labour despite media predictions he could lose as many as 80.

In so doing, Corbyn denied Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May her majority – a triumph for Labour relative to the consensus that the party was heading for disaster.

Smith’s line summed up the general attitude of Corbyn’s critics in the Parliamentary Labour Party.

Three-quarters of them called for him to go last year, in a failed coup which was swiftly followed by Smith’s leadership challenge.

But in the wake of last week’s unexpected electoral gains, once-critical Labour lawmakers and political commentators have lined up to eat some of the same humble pie as Smith. In a gesture of reconciliation, Corbyn brought Smith back into the Shadow Cabinet this week.

Some hardliners, however, have rejected Corbyn’s outstretched hand – none more so than the party’s internal Israel lobby.

Making demands

Writing in the right-wing Jewish Chronicle on Wednesday, Labour Friends of Israel chair Joan Ryan demanded that Corbyn cut ties with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign to prove Labour is a “credible party of government.”

Ryan’s demands are extraordinary, especially since she used the general election campaign to bad-mouth her own party and its leader.

The PSC responded to Ryan, saying that “our values are those of principled respect for the human rights of everyone – Palestinian and Israeli – as well as international law.”

“We know that these are the values to which Jeremy Corbyn subscribes,” the group added. “That is why we are proud to have him as a patron.”

Ryan also slammed Corbyn as having “long-standing involvement with anti-Israel activism” and called for him to atone by holding talks with Israel’s Labor Party – a racist organization which has recently been in talks to join the hard-right government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

She also threatened to revive yet again the anti-Semitism witch hunt which engulfed Labour last year, when dozens of members were suspended without due process, often based on grossly exagerated or entirely fabicated charges.

Ryan herself was caught personally engaging in concocting false anti-Semitism charges against a party member who questioned Labour Friends of Israel’s position on Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law.

Yet in her Jewish Chronicle article, Ryan demanded that Corbyn “address adequately the problem of anti-Zionist anti-Semitism within Labour’s ranks.”

Undermining Corbyn

In fact, over the last year, Corbyn repeatedly denounced anti-Semitism and ordered an independent inquiry – the Chakrabarti report – which has led to institutional changes within Labour.

Ryan ran a defeatist election campaign, which amounted to sabotage of the Labour leader’s chances of entering 10 Downing Street as prime minister.

“Many” local people “tell me they have more confidence in Theresa May as prime minister than they would have in Jeremy Corbyn,” she wrote in a letter to voters in her district.

Despite her attacks on Corbyn, Ryan, like dozens of other Labour lawmakers who had worked against him, was re-elected on the coattails of his popular manifesto.

Yet anonymous “figures” and “sources” have continued to denounce Corbyn to The Jewish Chronicle and other right-wing media this week.

The Jewish Chronicle quoted a “senior pro-Israel Labour” source explaining that the tactic used by Ryan of talking down the party’s chances had been part of a broader pro-Israel strategy.

“I told people Corbyn absolutely would not win and they could vote Labour,” the source said. “We managed to get people who hate Corbyn to vote for Corbyn’s Labour Party.”

“Bang on his door”

But these pro-Israel elements are evidently shocked and disappointed that under Corbyn’s leadership the party did too well at the ballot box.

The source indicated that the pro-Israel forces would continue to undermine Corbyn just as the Labour Party is more confident than it has been in years.

“Communal groups” – a reference to pro-Israel organizations that claim to speak on behalf of the Jewish community – “will have to do what they did before and either ignore him [Corbyn] or work around him,” the source said.

The source also predicted that pro-Israel lawmakers will “be happier to bang on his door now – about anti-Semitism or Israel.”

Like other Corbyn critics, Tulip Siddiq, a Labour Friends of Israel supporter, was re-elected with an increased majority – despite her own efforts to keep the anti-Semitism witch hunt rumbling.

After the election, she told the Jewish News that “there are elements of anti-Semitism in the party that have not been dealt with properly.”

She vowed the she, along with Labour Friends of Israel leader Ryan and fellow supporter Wes Streeting “will stand up … we can’t go on like this.”

Blurring the line

Failed Labour parliamentary candidate Jeremy Newmark, a veteran leader in the UK’s Israel lobby, wrote in The Times of Israel on Wednesday that after the election, “many things remain unchanged” and “we still need to turn a corner regarding anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.”

Newmark called for the Chakrabarti report to be “revisited,” despite the fact that the Jewish Labour Movement, the internal party pro-Israel group that he heads, had initially welcomed it last year as “sensible and firm.”

Newmark also called for a mooted Labour Party rule book change put forward by his pro-Israel group to again be pushed at the party conference in September.

The change would “recognize that it is not acceptable to use Zionism as a term of abuse” – potentially making criticism of the Israeli state’s official ideology an infraction punishable by expulsion from Labour.

The rule change would also apply to Zionism a definition of a racist incident “which places particular value upon the perception of the victim/victim group.” In other words, a concept developed to protect vulnerable groups from bigotry would be co-opted to protect Israel from criticism by giving Israel’s apologists the right to determine which criticisms of Israel they deem “anti-Semitic.”

If adopted, such a rule would further conflate anti-Semitic bigotry against Jews, on the one hand, with anti-Zionism – opposition to Israel’s exclusivist ideology that discriminates against Palestinians – on the other.

Blurring the line between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism has been a key objective of Israel and its surrogates.

New-old lines of attack

Newmark also revealed the lines of attack the Israel lobby will use against Corbyn. “The immediate agenda is clear,” he wrote, calling for two prominent Labour critics of Israel to be expelled: former London mayor Ken Livingstone and Jewish anti-racism activist Jackie Walker.

None of the smears used by hostile media and right-wing Labour lawmakers last year seemed to work.

Even the false and grossly exaggerated charges of anti-Semitism had their limits.

But bereft of ideas to stop Corbyn eventually entering Number 10 – as now looks increasingly plausible – Israel’s allies in the Labour Party appear determined to bring this manufactured crisis back.

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Friends of Israel is clearly operating as a Foreign Agent undermining governments around the World to further the Zionist attempt to illegally take all Palestine and to implement and normalise its Apartheid Policies and gain further impunity for its continued war crimes against Palestinians. Israel has set up a Friends of Israel group in NZ and was very vocal when NZ Govt renewed ties with Israel. Time for people to declare Friends of Israel persona non grata as it is widely known to have direct contact with Israeli government and takes it direction from said government. It is a direct threat to Democracy Worldwide.

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In my youth I saw newsreels in local cinemas of mountains of Jewish bodies slaughtered by Nazis in Bergen Belsen and Auschwitz Concentration Camps. The horror of those experiences remains with me to this day. Later, when the Balfour Declaration was put into effect and Israel created in Palestine, I was amazed by the actions of the Stern Gang sniping, murdering in truth, soldiers from the armies that had rescued Jews from those concentration camps. I later wondered at the destruction of Palestinian olive groves and general disregard for the rights of others by Zionists of the new Israel. I am a member of the Labour Party and to this day have not been able to come to terms with the aims and actions of those Zionists who hold themselves above laws meant to apply to all humanity. Does this make me antisemitic?

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Criticizing what I call Israeli government policy is not anti-Semitic. I doubt it would make a difference to Labour's Israel lobby to frame it this way, but that's what I am most comfortable with.

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I believe Joan Ryan should be suspended from the Laboir party pending an investigation into her anti Palestinianand racist views.

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Prove yourself to be leadership standard by bowing to our in humane demands. Joan Ryan was my local mp, I voted green to try to get her out. She doesn't listen to her community and is too busy claiming false expenses to deserve her seat. Another blue Labour traitor

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Another point in evidence for bringing back local accountability of MPs and the selection process by CLPs, and not parachuted in from upon high by party HQ.

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If they cant support labour when many in Britain are suffering due to government cuts then they are no friends of labour so leave and form your own party, see where that gets you. Pure selfishness from the few but not the many. Tories in disguise springs to mind!

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These treacherous defenders of the rogue state of Israel should be removed from the Labour Party. There is no case for the barbarous policies of Netanyahu and his zionist mob. Furthermore, I wonder whether their actions are in accord with the views of their constituents. They are furthering Israel's propaganda campaign and trying to destroy Corbyn. They are furthering the cause of zionism snd swimming against the tide of public opinion.

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This woman of Bengali descent is in fact approving colonialism as is done by israel. She is a traitor of her own origins and retroactivily approving British colonial behaviour in India and more particular in East Bengal where Chuchill caused the great Bengal famine in 1942 '43. Read for that: Churchill's Secret War: The British Empire and the Ravaging of India during World War II by Madhusree Mukerjee. I am absolutely6 convinced that her maternal grandfather Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, founding father and the first President of Bangladesh would strongly disapprove her political machinations

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After the next election, open hearings should be held in Parliament on Israel's role in British politics. The inquiry should extend to party delegations seated in both chambers. It is flatly wrong for members to serve a foreign power- particularly one so rooted in lawlessness- while pledging undivided loyalty to Queen and country.

In the case of Zionist militants in Labour, it really is time the Wes Streetings and Joan Ryans of this world were made to understand that Labour's adherence to the principles of equality leaves no room for solidarity with apartheid Israel. I trust that success at the polls and a new configuration within the party executive will assist in producing this realisation.

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The members of this movement must remember that Israel is a racist state just as South Africa was. It is strange that so many Labour MPs support racism when it occurs in Israel, a state where senior politicians make the most outrageous racist remarks about Palestinians on a daily basis.

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Any person,with an open mind and a believer in human justice can see that the Israeli government are wrong in how they treat and act towards the Palestinians. Such a subsidized(USA) country should try being a bit more human towards their fellow men ,and children , they just might find out that they are the same as they are.

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Isn't it time for the Labour Party to consider expelling disloyal members of Labour Friends of Israel?

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My partner and I, along with many other volunteers from Momentum and the Labour Party, canvassed hard for Joan Ryan and Tulip Siddiq. We didn't do it for them: we did it through gritted teeth to push for a Labour victory with Jeremy Corbyn. Of course these dirty little careerists are using the Israeli political invasion to further their own interests; but Israel is using them as its fifth column and the ripple effect of either win or loss for Labour in the next election will be enormous and lasting.

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At such a time, there's no option. Vote Labour. The rest will sort itself out soon enough, after the next election. Momentum have done a tremendous job- congratulations.

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Momentum would have better spent its energy campaigning for candidates not bent on sabotaging Labour for the sake of Israel, IMO. Even if that meant campaigning outside your riding.

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You have got to wonder about their love for country and countrymen, when they choose to attack an official in their own country, at the bidding of an alien one, who is occupying and stealing lands. Britain is supposed to be a democratic nation, and the mere fact that you are organizing a group of people whose intention is basically to stifle any criticism of an infamous, disliked occupier, is disgusting and shows you are an agent for that nation. Israel first not Britain.

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All you have to do is refuse to accept the make believe State of Israel. It is a figment of the imagination of Theodor Herzl and company, 110 years ago in Switzerland. No matter what 'Israel' does it cannot scrape itself clean from over a century of conspiracy against Palestine.

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.