15 February 2020 — The Electronic Intifada
Emily Thornberry posted – but later deleted – a shamelessly anti-Palestinian tweet that same night. The posting clearly implied it was “anti-Semitic” for Labour conference delegates to fly Palestinian flags.
Neither Thornberry nor the Labour Party replied to requests for comment.
Asked by one questioner what their attitude was towards Zionism, all four leadership candidates expressed support for Israel’s official ideology.
“I believe in the state of Israel and therefore I’m a Zionist,” said Thornberry.
Nandy was even more enthusiastic, gushing about what “makes me a Zionist.”
Long-Bailey said she supported separate Palestinian and Israeli states, “So I suppose that makes me a Zionist, because I agree with Israel’s right to exist.”
Keir Starmer, the frontrunner, said that he has family in Israel and although “I wouldn’t describe myself in that way,” he understood “and I sympathize with and I support Zionism.”
Zionism is the movement that founded the state of Israel in 1948, and remains enshrined in Israeli law and state ideology today.
Between 1947 and 1949, Zionist militias and the new Israeli army drove the majority of Palestine’s indigenous population out of the country in order to create a majority Jewish state.
The refugees have never been allowed to return solely because they are not Jewish.
The Jewish Labour Movement and Labour Friends of Israel audience were openly hostile to Corbyn on Thursday night.
During the introduction, Jewish Labour Movement chair Mike Katz asked why Labour had supposedly become a home for “anti-Semites” and “Holocuast deniers.”
Someone in the audience shouted out “Corbyn!” to warm laughter from the audience.
The morning after the event, the Jewish Labour Movement announced its members had endorsed Lisa Nandy for Labour leader.
This endorsement is unlikely to influence the wider membership, however.
A YouGov poll of party members last month showed that Labour Friends of Israel – which co-hosted the event Thursday night – is now the single most unpopular out of nine Labour-associated groups.
Only 17 percent of members polled said they viewed the Israel lobby group favorably, with 38 percent regarding it unfavorably.
By contrast, Labour Friends of Palestine is viewed favorably by 47 percent of party members and unfavorably by just 12 percent.
That gives Labour Friends of Palestine a net favorability rating of 35, while Labour Friends of Israel’s stands at -21.