“From our earliest days – even before the Balfour Declaration – we backed the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.Labour leaders – from Harold Wilson to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown – recognised Israel’s importance to the community here at home, celebrated its achievements and stood by it in moments of peril.They rightly saw their counterparts in the Israeli Labor party– from Golda Meir to Chaim Herzog, Abba Eban, Yitzhak Rabin, and Shimon Peres – as comrades in the international struggle for equality, peace and freedom.“Social democrats who made the desert flower,” as Wilson put it.

This tradition belongs to no one wing or faction of the party.It is Labour’s tradition!!!Fifty years ago this year, LFI published a collection of essays, “Labour Looks at Israel”.

It was an ideologically eclectic collection of contributors. Eric Heffer, David Marquand, Richard Crossman, and Ian Mikardo. This was the tradition that animated the most recent Labour government’s relationship with Israel and with the Jewish community, and it is a tradition that I am determined to restore. Our investment in the security of Jewish schools and support for the vital work of the Holocaust Education Trust; our decision to outlaw religious discrimination, crack down on hate crimes, and proscribe Hezbollah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

And our work to strengthen Britain’s bilateral ties with Israel, uphold the right for Israel to defend itself and promote the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

I’m proud of this record. It is a record a future Labour government will seek to emulate and enhance. But for us to do so, we have to recognise that tackling antisemitism is not just a legal and institutional matter.The changes we have made to our procedures allow us to confront the symptoms of anti-Jewish racism.

But to really identify, confront, and root out anti-Zionist antisemitism, we should look to the words of the late David Cesarani.

In his paper “The Left and the Jews” – commissioned by Gordon Brown and republished this year – David warned of the danger of “treating Jewish fears about anti-Jewish sentiment as merely a device to muzzle criticism of Israel”.

The left, he presciently suggested, was…AND I QUOTE…. “in danger of repeating the historic error of those … who dismissed hatred of Jews and threats to their well-being as merely a delusion and the symptom of an ephemeral conflict”.

Anti-Zionist antisemitism is the antithesis of the Labour tradition: It denies the Jewish people alone a right to self-determination; It equates Zionism with racism, focuses obsessively on the world’s sole Jewish state, and holds it to standards to which no other country is subjected; and it seeks to paint the actions of Israel as akin to the crimes of those who sought to annihilate European Jewry in the Shoah. . . 

But the State of Israel wasn’t just built as a response to those who committed mass murder in the bloodlands of Eastern Europe. It is also a living, breathing rejection of their worldview.

Three years after the liberation of the camps, Israel’s Declaration of Independence committed the new state to Freedom, justice and peace; complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; and freedom of religion, conscience, language, education, and culture.

Israel herself is the first to acknowledge that at times she falls short of these goals.

And we, in the British Labour Party, will always say when we believe there are wrongs or shortcomings.

I say this because true friends will always be frank.

But we will continue to support Israel’s rumbustious democracy, its independent judiciary, and its commitment to the rule of law; Israel is a nation with a vibrant media, free trade unions and a lively tradition of debate, dissent, and disagreement; As well as the rights won by the struggle of the women’s movement, the LGBT community, and religious and racial minorities.

And we oppose those who seek to undermine this.

Ten years ago this year, we tragically lost David Cairns. In the last speech he wrote as LFI chair – one he was sadly unable to deliver – he explained his staunch support for Israel.“It’s because Israel embodies progressive values,” he declared, “that I am a proud friend of Israel.”

I am proud of the fact that, this year, we have re-established relations with our friends in the Israeli Labor party. . . I welcome, too, the new Israeli government’s efforts to re-engage with the Palestinian Authority and Yair Lapid’s proposals to help tackle the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and begin to rehabilitate its economy.

Israel’s most precious features are its Jewish and its democratic identities.

To retain both, we must have a two-state solution.

And to respect and honour the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, they must have a democratic, viable state of their own. This is an aspiration that I know is shared by many millions of Israelis and Palestinians alike.

That is why I am both a friend of Israel and a friend of Palestine.

It is time to step beyond the Manichean view of this conflict.

As Amos Oz has argued: “The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not a Wild West movie. “It is not a struggle between good and evil, rather it is a tragedy in the ancient and most precise sense of the word: a clash between right and right, a clash between one very powerful, deep, and convincing claim, and another very different but no less convincing, no less powerful, no less humane claim.”

Our approach to this complex conflict will be guided by a simple principle: it is not about whether you are pro one side or another.. this is about whether you are on the side of peace. We are pro-Israel, pro-Palestine, and pro-peace.

Our allies will be all those –  Israeli or Palestinian – who seek to further the cause of reconciliation, peace, and progress.

And our goal will be to support the efforts of peacebuilders to overcome the challenges which face them and seize the opportunities they see before them.

We will be clear-sighted about the nature and ambition of the likes of Hamas and Hezbollah -whose use of violence and terrorism destroys the prospect of peace.

And let me be clear, too, the Labour party does not and will not support BDS. Its principles are wrong – targeting alone the world’s sole Jewish state.

We fully oppose and condemn illegal settlements, annexation and the eviction of Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian territories.We believe that international law should be adhered to.

But a policy of BDS would be counterproductive.

It would drive people apart when we should be bringing them together. BDS wouldn’t just hurt the people of Israel and Palestine, it would cause huge damage to the relationship between Israel and the United Kingdom, when we should be working together to tackle the great challenges of our time.

And let us remember that the relationship between our country and Israel is of huge importance. That relationship sees 1 In 7 NHS drugs coming from Israel.

It creates bilateral trade of more than £8bn and allows security and intelligence cooperation which helps us, together, counter the ever-increasing threat posed by cyber criminals and terrorists.

That relationship must be reinforced, not weakened. . .

So I close today on a note of hope.We will rid our party of antisemitism, bigotry, and prejudice. I promise you that.

We are reconnecting with friends of Israel and our friends in Israel. And we’re returning to the real Labour tradition – one in which, I hope, the Jewish community will once again have trust, confidence, and faith.

I hope they will feel they can return to their real home in the Labour party and persuade their friends, family and neighbours to do the same.

Under my leadership, Labour will stand shoulder to shoulder with peacemakers and progressives. We’ll stand up against those who demonise and delegitimise Israel and its people.Or who say Jews don’t count. Because under my leadership of Labour party every Jew will count.

And we’ll stand by our party’s long and historic commitment to the world’s only Jewish state – Israel

Thank you so much for listening.



Rhys Blakely, Science Correspondenct

A new form of lie detector that reads a person’s face to judge whether they are telling the truth has been invented in Israel, inventors claim.

Alas, unlike my late father, who once worked in Dublin’s Patent Office, Science is not my field.

But I can boast that I did once expose the patent mendacity of THE TIMES and had the exposure endorsed by the British Press Council.

THE TIMES learned nothing from the exercise but continued as it has done for centuries meandering crazily from truth to deliberate lies..

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