There are still lifelong Labour supporters among my close friends who believe that despite the re-election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader with an overwhelming majority, the party will come to its senses. After all, a party that elected Ed Miliband as leader and was home to such pro-Israel and Jewish friendly figures as Tony Blair and Gordon Brown could not possibly be as anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist as it appears s to be.
The reality is that the party which was once the natural home of so many Jewish voters because of its tolerance and affinity with early Zionism’s socialist ambitions is allowing policy to be driven by an extremist left-wing mob, of which their leader is part. This is someone who saw nothing wrong in accepting fees of £20,000 for his appearances on Press TV, an Iranian propaganda channel where guests and callers are able to spout anti-Semitic views without any fears of repudiation.
Anti-Israel and anti-Zionist views have been part of the far left agenda for years. It didn’t matter that much when the International Socialists and new-leftist movements such as Momentum stood on the fringe of mainstream politics. But, alarmingly, they now provide the Labour Party narrative which has become a terrifying prospect as we look forward to the Jewish new year.
There is much for Jews and non-Jews of a liberal bent to be upset about when it comes to Israel. The settlement policies of successive Israeli governments; a lack of solid commitment to a two-state peace process; the policing methods at the checkpoints between Israel and the disputed territories. What is so puzzling about Corbyn and his Labour claque is their inability to see Israel as anything except a colonialist, bullying outpost.
The reality is that Israel, to use the favourite lingo of the left, is a multi-cultural and tolerant society. Indeed, even though there is still too much anti-Arab sentiment, the Israeli government is working hard to break down the societal barriers to Israeli-Arabs.
Spending over the next three years has been boosted to NIS15bn. The important things is that the new money will largely funnelled through key Israeli government departments such as education and housing with 20 percent of the budgets spent in their own communities.
It goes without saying that the far greater cause of the 200,000 killings in Syria and the ghastly five-year civil war in the country has never been a cause célèbre on Britain’s left. Indeed, the human rights abuses across the Middle East, including those in Gaza and the West Bank, are largely ignored.
The Economist recently chronicled how Hamas and its associates in Gaza ignore the freedom of speech which is enshrined in Palestine’s basic law. Human Rights Watch has recently accused the Palestinian authorities of detaining and torturing journalists in Gaza who dare express critical views. Only 20 percent of Palestinians believe freedom of speech exists in the Gaza and the West Bank. A recent critical post about the Palestinian Authority on Facebook, which called the PA ‘rotten’, led to the offender being hauled before the authorities and detained. Such abuses don’t seem to worry the Corbyn claque.
Irrespective of the tumult around it Israel will begin 5777 as a light among the nations. Israeli pharmaceuticals are keeping people in the UK healthy. Israeli cyber-security is keeping us safe and Israeli algorithms are powering our Sky Boxes. We may soon even have Israeli gas firing our power stations. Who would have thought it.
May I wish all Jewish News readers Shanah Tovah Umetukah.