Corbyn vows to battle antisemitism after Israeli Labor party suspends ties

“As Jeremy has said, he and the Labour Party are proud of our deep historical links with Jewish communities and stand in solidarity with our Jewish [members], who play a vital role in our movement."

April 10, 2018 17:51
3 minute read.

Labor Chairman Avi Gabbay sends a letter to Labour UK Leader Jeremy Corbyn (Credit: Labor Party)

Labor Chairman Avi Gabbay sends a letter to Labour UK Leader Jeremy Corbyn (Credit: Labor Party)


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Avi Gabbay, chairman of Israel’s Labor Party, sent a letter to Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the UK’s Labour Party, announcing a suspension of ties between the Israeli party and Corbyn’s office amid allegations he allowed for antisemitism in his party.

The move came following several steps taken by Corbyn that were interpreted by British Jewish leadership as antisemitic.

“It is my responsibility to acknowledge the hostility that you have shown to the Jewish community and the antisemitic statements and actions you have allowed as leader of the Labour Party UK,” Gabbay wrote Corbyn.

“This is in addition to your very public hatred of the policies of the government of the State of Israel, many of which regard the security of our citizens and actions of our soldiers – policies where the opposition and coalition in Israel are aligned.”

In a statement sent to The Jerusalem Post, a spokesperson for Corbyn said in response, “Jeremy is utterly committed to driving antisemitism out of the Labour Party.

“As Jeremy has said, he and the Labour Party are proud of our deep historical links with Jewish communities, and stand in solidarity with our Jewish brothers and sisters, who play a vital role in our movement,” the spokesperson continued. “Jeremy has pledged to be a militant opponent of antisemitism. He has repeatedly emphasized the central role of the Jewish community in the Labour Party and the importance of ensuring it is a supportive and welcoming environment for all communities.

The spokesperson added that “Jeremy will be meeting with the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council to listen to their concerns and to discuss how to best root out antisemitism from our movement and society.”

Gabbay wrote that he decided to take the step ahead of Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day, which recalls the horrors of antisemitism in Europe and Israel’s commitment to combating antisemitism in all its forms and in all places.

“As such, I write to inform you of the temporary suspension of all formal relations between the Israel Labor Party and the leader of the Labour Party UK,” Gabbay wrote. “While there are many areas where our respective parties can and will cooperate, we cannot retain relations with you, leader of Labour Party UK, while you fail to adequately address the antisemitism within Labour Party UK.”

Gabbay wrote that he informed all of his party’s staff, members of Knesset and elected party leaders of the suspension of ties with Corbyn’s office. He said he asked his party’s international secretary to update him quarterly on the issue.

“Should this suspension change, you will be updated accordingly,” Gabbay wrote Corbyn.

Gabbay’s step came three days after Corbyn called for a review of arms sales to Israel in a message condemning its “illegal and inhumane” actions against Palestinians protesting on the border with Gaza.

The message was read Saturday at a demonstration in support of the Palestinians outside of the British Prime Minister’s Office on Downing Street and posted on Corbyn’s Facebook page.

Last week, Corbyn attended a Passover Seder organized by a left-wing Jewish group that openly calls for Israel’s destruction.

The British Campaign Against Antisemitism denounced Corbyn to the Labour Party in a comprehensive disciplinary complaint that accuses Corbyn of bringing his party into disrepute for dismissing antisemitism, and flags his membership in several social media groups used as platforms for antisemitic posts.

The Jewish Leadership Council declined to comment for this story. However, a spokesman for the Board of Deputies of British Jews said: “We have learned of the decision of the Israeli Labor Party to suspend its longstanding ties with the Labour Party in the UK. This represents another casualty of Labour’s failure to deal with antisemitism, which led to the UK Jewish community’s patience finally being exhausted and the ‘Enough is Enough’ demonstration at Parliament on 26 March.”

JTA contributed to this report.

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