Labour’s arms-boycott motion ‘deeply disturbing,’ say community groups

Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies community organization, strongly defended UK arms sales to Israel.

September 26, 2018 16:49
2 minute read.
UK Board of Deputies Head Marie van der Zyl.

UK Board of Deputies Head Marie van der Zyl.. (photo credit: COURTESY UK BOARD OF DEPUTIES)

The British Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Labour Friends of Israel organization both criticized a motion calling for an arms sales boycott against Israel that was passed by the Labour Party’s annual conference on Tuesday.

After battling serial antisemitism allegations throughout the summer, the conference approved a motion that condemned Israel for Palestinian casualties at the Gaza border since April – many of which resulted from efforts to infiltrate Israel – and called for an international investigation and a halt of UK arms sales to the Jewish state.

Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies community organization, strongly defended UK arms sales to Israel, pointing to the security threats Israel faces and UK-Israel security cooperation, which if halted could be detrimental to the security of British citizens.

“Israel is situated in a region of unique turmoil and threat, faced with implacable enemies determined to kill civilians and ultimately destroy Israel in its entirety. This includes terrorist organizations who in the past few years have murdered hundreds of Jewish and Arab civilians,” Van der Zyl said.

“It is absolutely right to provide arms for the country’s defence,” she continued, adding that an arms embargo could threaten British jobs and security.

“Decreasing military cooperation, including arms sales, could endanger British civilians and assets in both the Middle East and in the UK,” she added, saying that the Board of Deputies was “disappointed but not surprised” with the motion, which she described as “irresponsible” and “misguided.”

The Labour Friends of Israel parliamentary group was also critical of the motion, with LFI director Jennifer Gerber calling it “deeply disturbing but sadly unsurprising.”

Said Gerber, “One-sided resolutions, denunciations of the world’s only Jewish state, antisemitic conspiracy theories and an abject failure to recognize the existential threats posed to Israel, show that this is a party which is no longer remotely serious about peace.”
Since late March, tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza have taken part in “March of Return” protests against Israel at the Gaza border fence.

These protests have been accompanied by numerous attempts to infiltrate Israel, attacks on IDF personnel with explosives, and the launching of hundreds of airborne incendiary devices into Israel that have led to large-scale fires in Israel.

According to the Hamas-run Gaza Ministry of Health, close to 180 Palestinians have been killed and thousands injured by IDF operations in response to the protests and other incidents.

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