Robert Festenstein

What now for the UK Jews and Labour?

Back in April 2023 I wrote a piece making some predictions about what might happen to UK Jews if (and when) the Labour party form a Government.  My words from 13 months included the following paragraphs:

If Labour is returned to power it is very likely they will recognise Palestine as a state.  I am sure that in doing so they will believe they are being even-handed in their approach to what they describe as ‘both sides’.  This is of course nonsense.  Leaders in the Palestinian Authority and Gaza have been open in their desire to drive all Jews out of Israel or alternatively, just kill them.  It is sickening that despite their clearly stated aims that the Western powers continue to apply an equivalence between them and Israel.  The reality is that the Palestinian leaders want to kill the Jews and the Jews don’t want to be killed.  No real equivalence there.

So how does this make life more difficult for us?  Simple.  By recognising the entity which seeks to kill us, it will encourage [the hard left] to increase their attacks on Israel and condemn all of those who point out the murderous policies of the Palestinian leadership as being opposed to peace.  There will be far less condemnation of terrorist attacks and those who support Israel in the UK will become increasingly isolated.”

It gives me no satisfaction to say that even without Labour being in power much of what I predicted just over a year ago has come to pass.  The sickening events of the 7th October have demonstrated beyond any doubt where the Palestinian leadership stands on Israel and the Jews.  Despite this, the shrill voices in the Labour party are demanding a ceasefire in Gaza with little if any corresponding demands for the release of the hostages.

The media in general and the BBC in particular are treating Israel and Hamas as equals, whereas one is a sovereign country and other is a terrorist entity.  As the UK general election approaches (it is less than 9 months away), the old concerns which were present under Jeremy Corbyn have returned.  The hate marches disguised as ‘pro-Palestinian’ through London designed to intimidate anyone who disagrees with, particularly Jews has made the capital on those days a Jew free zone.  The marginalisation of Jewish students on campus and the huge rise in anti-Semitism on social media have largely gone unchecked.  Further, the wholesale condemnation from Labour which would arise if the targeted group were black or Muslim is nowhere to be seen.

Gaza became an issue in very many local council elections when in reality, the conflict 2,000 miles away was and is wholly irrelevant to local issues.  Yet there it was, front and centre, infecting the Labour campaign. It is reasonable to expect that this will be the same during a general election. This is so unappealing, that Israel and the principles of Jewish self-determination should become something of a national debate in political parties generally and the Labour party in particular.

My view is that whatever Sir Kier Starmer might say as leader of the Labour party in support of Israel and the UK Jewish community, his words are unlikely to be adopted by the Labour party as a whole.  I am certain he is horrified by the levels of anti-Semitism in the country and his political party.  I am also certain that he is unable to stem the tide of hatred and that for the time being at least, not only is Labour an unsafe place for Jews, the same will apply once it gets into Government.  As for Jewish members of Labour, it is going to be a difficult time for them if they are going to openly support Israel.  It Is not going to be easy to be a member of a party that doesn’t want them there.  That perhaps says it all.

About the Author
Robert Festenstein is a solicitor based in Manchester with considerable experience in Court actions. He is active in fighting the increase in anti-Semitism in the UK and is President of the Zionist Central Council, an organisation devoted to promoting and defending the democratic State of Israel.