Corbyn's loss is Jews and Israel's gain – analysis

For the vast majority in Britain, this election had to do with Brexit. That was the main issue of the campaign, that is what this election was all about.

UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn campaigns on Sunday for the upcoming elections. (photo credit: REBECCA NADEN/REUTERS)
UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn campaigns on Sunday for the upcoming elections.
Boris Johnson’s election gamble poised to pay off,” the headline on Sky News’ website read just after midnight on Friday as the exit polls rolled in from the critical British election.
The BBC’s headline: “Conservatives on course to win majority – exit poll.”
For the Jewish people, however, a headline reflecting their initial reaction would have run something like this: “Corbyn loses, Jews world-over heave a huge sigh of relief.”
For the vast majority of people in Britain, this election had to do with Brexit. That was the main issue of the campaign. That is what this election was all about. It was a Brexit dominated, Brexit focused, Brexit centered campaign.
But for Jews in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, the issue was different, the stakes were higher, and the election was about something even more significant than Brexit: it was about whether antisemitism would be mainstreamed and an antisemite would become Britain’s prime minister.
That he didn’t, that the Hamas and Hezbollah supporting Corbyn – a man who allowed rampant antisemitism to flourish in the Labour Party – suffered a thunderous loss, is a cause for celebration among Jews not only in Britain, even if they are opposed to the Brexit that Johnson supports.
That the Labour Party suffered such a historic setback was not the result of Corbyn’s positions on Israel and his antisemitism. But it didn’t help. He was a toxic candidate for a variety of reasons, and his antisemitism just added another layer to his toxicity.
The Democratic Party in the US would do well to pay close attention to what happened in Britain, and how a far-left candidate flamed and burned in general elections. This should be a cautionary tale for a party flirting with putting Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren as its presidential nominee.
Not only does Corbyn’s resounding defeat mean that there remains a future for British Jewry – something that many of the UK’s 300,000 Jews had said might not have been certain had Corbyn won – but it also means that Israel has dodged a bullet.
The United Kingdom is currently Israel’s largest trading partner in Europe, a major intelligence and defense partner and an important friend on the international stage.
Over the last couple of years, the relationship between the two countries has become significantly stronger. This was evident last year with the visit of Prince William, the first ever official visit to Israel of a member of the royal family. And it was also evident again in January, when the IAF was invited for the first time to take part in a joint exercise with the Royal Air Force.
Some of the closer cooperation between the two countries is due to Brexit, and the need for the UK to become closer to countries outside of the EU. But that is not the only reason.
The close relationship across a number of spheres is also because Britain is no longer a superpower, and Israel’s strength and proficiency in defense and intelligence matters is something Britain benefits from.
The improvement in ties also has to do with the change in Israel’s relationship with the Saudis and the Persian Gulf. In the past, London was concerned about how trading and cooperating closely with Israel on defense would impact their important relationships in the Gulf.
But now that the UK sees that Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and United Arab Emirates themselves are all dealing with Israel in various spheres, that obstacle has been removed.
All that, however, would have been in jeopardy had Corbyn won. Corbyn pledged to end arms sales to Israel and recognize a Palestinian state. He would have been a significant advocate for Palestinian maximalist positions on the world stage. Israel would have suffered a mighty diplomatic blow had he taken the reins of power.
In 2002, they die was cast for the deterioration of Turkish-Israeli ties – which had flourished for two decades prior – when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, virulently anti-Israel, won elections there. There was a concern in Jerusalem that a similar situation would result had Corbyn won these elections in Britain. That he didn’t is something that has been enthusiastically welcomed in Israel.