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10 April 2018updated 28 Jun 2021 4:39am

Why has the Israeli Labor Party severed ties with Jeremy Corbyn, and what are the consequences?

The decision has two drivers: anti-Semitism, and Israel.

By Stephen Bush

The Israeli Labor Party has formally suspended its links with Jeremy Corbyn’s office, citing both the continuing problem of anti-Semitism within the British Labour party and Corbyn’s own “very public hatred” of the policies of the Israeli government, including those “where the opposition and coalition in Israel are aligned”.

As far as domestic issues go, the Israeli Labor party is a fairly run-of-the-mill social democratic party. Their election defeat in 2015, shortly before Ed Miliband’s loss, gave some Conservatives’ hope that “bashing the SNP” would give them the same electoral dividend against a redistributive vanilla social democrat that bashing the possibility of a centre-left government propped up by the minor Arab parties gave Bibi Netanyahu, as Simon Heffer reported at the time in the NS.

But although Labor – who are the largest individual component in the centre-left opposition grouping – do not align entirely with the governing parties as far as security and foreign policy positions go, they do support many of the policies that are opposed by pro-Palestinian movements on the British left, including the programme of settlement buildings.

Although the row means little in practice as far as the day-to-day relationships between the two parties is concerned – Corbyn already had no real engagement with the Israeli Labor party and had declined several invitations from that party – it puts further pressure on Labour’s fraught relationship with British Jews.

Anti-Zionism exists within the Jewish community in the United Kingdom, but it is a minority position: for most, support of Israel and its security is essential. (That is why Ed Miliband’s strong opposition to the Gaza war did so much damage to the party’s standing in the community.)

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Corbyn has the powers to remove Labour’s anti-Semites should he choose to exercise them. As far as his relationship with the majority of British Jews goes, however, it will be harder to recover from Israel’s major centre-left party effectively declaring him in opposition not just to one Israeli government but to the state itself.

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