Israel voiced worry about Britain’s election on Thursday, describing the possible rise of the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn as a threat to bilateral ties and alarming for British Jews.
“This [election] very much troubles us,” Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely told Ynet.
“It is true that we as a country cannot say we support this-or-that candidate, but Corbyn is a real danger to Israel-Britain relations, and I know British Jewry is very worried about this possibility,” she said.
Corbyn, a veteran pro-Palestinian activist, has been repeatedly hit by allegations of anti-Semitism in Labour, with many of the country’s Jews saying saying they would consider emigrating should he be elected.
Jewish women MPs Luciana Berger and Dame Louise Ellman say anti-Semitism drove them out of the party, the former to the Liberal Democrats and the latter into retirement from politics.
Corbyn and Labour, Britain’s biggest opposition party, claim they oppose anti-Semitism. They say the party is not institutionally anti-Semitic, that complaints relate to a small minority of members, and that the processes to deal with such allegations have now improved.
The party is however currently under investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission for institutional anti-Semitism.
Seventy serving and former officials of the party have made critical submissions to the independent inquiry, including one respondent who listed 22 examples of anti-Semitic abuse at party meetings where he was called a "child killer" and "Tory Jew."
A parliamentary candidate describes witnessing a party member tell a Jewish councilor to go home and count their money after they were deselected.
Another party worker said a colleague objected to the prospective membership of 25 ultra-Orthodox Jews, and visits were made to their homes - something that did not happen for other applicants.
Corbyn has called for recognizing a Palestinian state and reviewing British arms exports to Israel. He has also come under criticism for calling Hamas and Hezbollah his "friends." In 2014, he visited the Tunisia grave of one of the masterminds of the massacre of 11 Israeli Olympians at the 1972 Munich Games.
In 2010, Corbyn hosted a pro-Gaza event in Parliament on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. under the headline "Never Again for Anyone – Auschwitz to Gaza." Some of the speakers at the event accused Israel of using the Holocaust for its own political purposes, while leaflets were handed out claiming Israel is carrying out genocide.
Foreign Minister Israel Katz said last week that he hoped Corbyn would lose the election to Boris Johnson, the Conservative prime minister. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not commented on the ballot.
“It must be understood that the things that Corbyn says, and the wind blowing through Labour today, is a wind of anti-Semitism. And this is a very grave matter,” Hotovely said.
“Jews will always have a place in the State of Israel. In other words, they do not have to feel in danger. But it is important to understand that this election is really a fateful election, and we really have to wait patiently here.”
First published: 16:05 , 12.12.19