Hos­til­ity re­vealed

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY MAR­CUS DYSCH

LABOUR’S NEW shadow cab­i­net avoided mak­ing any ma­jor pol­icy an­nounce­ments on Is­rael at the party’s con­fer­ence this week, but there were a se­ries of hos­tile re­cep­tions and con­tro­ver­sial com­ments around the fringes.

In his first con­fer­ence speech as leader, Jeremy Cor­byn did not re­fer to Is­rael or the Pales­tini­ans dur­ing a lengthy pas­sage on the sit­u­a­tion in Syria.

But his key­note ad­dress on Tues­day did in­clude sup­port for United States pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s ap­proach to Iran. He praised Mr Obama’s “clever and dif­fi­cult diplo­macy” in con­clud­ing the nu­clear deal with Tehran.

The pre­vi­ous day, his Shadow For­eign Sec­re­tary Hi­lary Benn made only a short ref­er­ence to Is­rael in his own speech.

Mr Benn said: “We must end the con­flict in the Mid­dle East, where it is now time for the Pales­tinian peo­ple to have their own state so that they and the peo­ple of Is­rael can live in peace.”

Away from the main speeches and tele­vi­sion cam­eras, the ap­proach was quite dif­fer­ent. The tone for the fringe ses­sions was set even be­fore con­fer­ence be­gan, at a meet­ing in Coven­try last week, when for­mer Labour MP and Trot­sky­ist Dave Nel­list re­ferred to Labour Friends of Is­rael as “the en­emy within”. The at­mos­phere at Brighton was sim­i­larly hos­tile. Shadow Equal­i­ties Min­is­ter Cat Smith, the Lan­caster and Fleet­wood MP who pre­vi­ously worked for Mr Cor­byn, told the au­di­ence at a Palestine Sol­i­dar­ity Cam­paign meet­ing that Bri­tain should en­force an arms em­bargo on Is­rael.

She said: “The sit­u­a­tion where we con­tinue to sup­ply Is­rael with arms and other se­cu­rity equip­ment… as though there was no oc­cu­pa­tion and no sys­tem­atic abuse of hu­man rights can­not be tol­er­ated.

“There is now a com­pelling case for Bri­tain to sus­pend this trade un­til Is­rael takes se­ri­ous strides to end­ing the oc­cu­pa­tion and re­spect­ing the fun­da­men­tal rights of those they rule over.”

One­mem­ber cited the gas cham­bers in a speech on work­ers’ rights

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