For those who think the UK Labour Party has turned the corner on its proclivity for antisemitism I have bad news for you, it hasn’t. Not only are the party’s latest published statistics awful and the ratio of expulsions pathetic, but there is also a slew, or should that be sewer, of new evidence that Labour councillors still think Corbyn is in charge.
Keir Starmer will no doubt argue that he is making progress but he is in denial if he fails to understand that the roots of the problem he must contend with are much deeper than the behaviour that the CAAS has exposed.
You see, there are still far too many Labour MPs who fail to understand that their visceral hatred of Israel is a serious problem and provides succour and camouflage for those with more sinister motivations.
Worse still, there are far too many sensible Labour MPs, many in senior positions in the PLP who commit the most egregious sin of all, they remain stubbornly silent.
Bambos Charalambous’ recent urgent question on the death of Shireen Abu Aqla on 16 May illustrates the point. An urgent question is a parliamentary procedure used by MPs if they believe an immediate answer from a government minister is required. However, Bambos isn’t an ordinary MP, he’s Labour’s shadow minister for the Middle East. Which means that this intervention was officially endorsed by the party i.e., Keir Starmer.
Keir Starmer fails to understand that the roots of the problem he must contend with are much deeper.
Even more revealing, when you assess Charalambous’ urgent question, is that all sober thought, all chronology and all known facts and logic were ignored. This despite Mr Charalambous having just returned from a trip to Israel funded by Labour Friends of Israel, where he would have learned first-hand of the security challenges that Israel faces.
Charalambous ignored the chain of events that led Israel’s security forces to be in Jenin, namely, to find the people who planned to harm and kill civilians. He ignored the video evidence of reckless Palestinian gunfire, he ignored a hastily performed autopsy, he ignored ballistics evidence being spirited away and affirmed that the Labour Party, not Bambos Charalambous, condemned the violence by Israeli forces.
That was the green light for the parliamentary pile on, in came Imran Hussein, John McDonnell, explaining how Israel, which probably has the most voluble journalists on the planet … treats journalists so badly.
They were followed by the permanently lugubrious Andrew Slaughter, Afzal Khan and then the cherry on the cake, softly spoken Geordie, Grahame Morris, who you’ll remember tweeted a picture of Guatemalan troops abusing Guatemalan civilians claiming they were Israeli troops abusing Palestinians.
Then up popped Naz Shah. You will remember Naz, she was suspended from the Labour Party in 2016 for retweeting a tweet which suggested Israel be relocated to the USA. Had Naz learned anything from her public excoriation in 2016? I am afraid not. In her 162 words she offered a series of non sequiturs before demanding Israel hand over the bullet that killed the journalist! Did nobody tell her it was the Palestinians that were withholding the bullet?
Of course, there were others that were equally awful: the SNP’s Joanna Cherry, Brendan O’Hara and Carol Monaghan, the hand wringing Liberal Democrat Layla Moran and Conservative Crispin Blunt, to name just a few.
But it isn’t just their casual incompetence which grates, or their collective lack of knowledge of the works and authority of the International Criminal Court or even their failure to mention the routine abuse of journalism by Hamas and Fatah.
Where were the urgent questions in our parliament this year when Israel was struck by a series of terror attacks in Beersheva, Hadera, Bnei Brak and Tel Aviv?
It’s not even the fact that the UK Parliament spends a wholly disproportionate amount of time on this one subject. No, it’s this: where were the urgent questions in our parliament this year when Israel was struck by a series of terror attacks in Beersheva, Hadera, Bnei Brak and Tel Aviv?
Nineteen Israelis have been murdered by Palestinian terrorists in 2022. No urgent questions, no adjournment debates, no Westminster Hall debates. No interest whatsoever. And from there you can’t help but conclude that they simply don’t care. It’s time for our parliament to take a good long hard look at itself and ask why an Israeli life is worth less than a Palestinian life?
And it’s time for Keir Starmer to explain why the Labour Party mobilises the machinery of parliament for one side and not the other.