Jewish Labour Movement and Labour Friends of Israel hold a joint leadership hustings

JVL Introduction

Under pressure in a pro-Israel hustings meeting, all the leadership candidates failed the test, reports Asa Winstanley.

It is clear that the Labour leadership candidates do not represent the views of the membership.

According to a new YouGov poll: “Many Labour members are passionate about the status of Palestine, to the extent that recent party conferences have featured a sea of members waving Palestinian flags. That being the case it is not surprising to see 47% of members have a positive view of Labour Friends of Palestine. At the same time only 17% of members have a positive view of Labour Friends of Israel.”

This makes LFI the single most unpopular Labour-associated groups, with a net negative rating (shared only by Progress and Labour First), of 9 organisations listed.

Interestingly, only Keir Starmer did not to describe himself as a Zionist (though he did say he supported Zionism).

As Jewdas commented acidly: “Imagine if there was a Labour Leadership hustings for the British Hindu community and the final question was “Are you a Hindu Nationalist?” That would be weird, right?

This article was originally published by Electronic Intifada on Sat 15 Feb 2020. Read the original here.

Candidates to replace Corbyn denounce him as anti-Semitic

Candidates to replace Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader this week denounced his words as “anti-Semitic.”

Israel lobby groups the Jewish Labour Movement and Labour Friends of Israel held a joint event on Thursday night to grill the leadership contenders.

Rebecca Long-Bailey, the supposedly left-wing candidate to replace Corbyn, agreed it was “anti-Semitic” to “describe Israel, its policies, or the circumstances around its foundation as racist.”

Lisa Nandy, another candidate, agreed with even more enthusiasm.

In 1948, Israel expelled 800,000 Palestinians from Palestine.

In 2018, Corbyn stated that it should not be “regarded as anti-Semitic to describe Israel, its policies or the circumstances around its foundation as racist because of their discriminatory impact” on Palestinians.

He had been attempting unsuccessfully to make it Labour Party policy to protect people who make valid criticisms of Israel, or state historical facts, from allegations of anti-Semitism.

But on Thursday, to loud groans from the audience, Long-Bailey prevaricated that she couldn’t “remember the exact words” Corbyn had used after the moderator – TV journalist Robert Peston – revealed the words she had just agreed were anti-Semitic were in fact Corbyn’s.

Peston ranted that Corbyn’s words had been “a disgrace.”

Festival of reaction

Long-Bailey has touted herself as the left-wing successor to Corbyn.

But there are no signs of anything like the same grassroots enthusiasm for her as there was for Corbyn.

The event on Thursday night was a festival of reaction and ignorance.

All four candidates tried to outdo each other in touting their pro-Israel credentials, and competing about who would expel the most Labour Party members in an ongoing “anti-Semitism” witch hunt.

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.


Comments (15)

  • Paul Smith says:

    Does anyone know the total membership of the JLM?

  • Tim says:

    I’ve only been a member a few weeks, but I honestly think I’m going to spoil my ballot paper or add a box at the bottom, put in a cross and write Jeremy Corbyn next to it! That’s assuming it’s going to be a paper ballot – it might be done on-line, I don’t know. I’ve not voted in a leadership election before, but after seeing and hearing the shower of shite that are standing, none of whom are fit to step into Corbyn’s shoes, I don’t think I’ll be sticking around to watch the slow death of all our dreams. I’d rather cut up my card, cancel my subs and write to Jenny Formby telling her why in no uncertain terms…

  • Pete Rossetti says:

    Can anyone explain why are the JLM and LFI having their own hustings?
    Is there a hierarchy concerning racism?

  • Alasdair MacVarish says:

    there is a clear case for disaffiliating Jewish Labour Movement which is a fringe organisation unrepresentative of any other than ultra-Zionists. Not all are Jews or Labour Party members. Labour Friends of Israel may wither on the vine.

  • CV says:

    So glad that Jo Bird has been reinstated. Never underestimate the pressure the grass roots can exert. I hope that the comrades that “self-exclude” in solidarity with Jo declaring themselves “antisemites” aren’t expelled from the Labour Party.
    We needed them in this fight and to take courage from their example.

  • David Hawkins says:

    Now Jo Bird is reinstated there is one thing we all can do. Lobby your friends, family, work colleagues and fellow party members and let’s get Jo Bird onto the NEC with a huge mandate. I’m donating to Jo’s crowd funding why not do the same ?

  • David Joyce says:

    Could someone please explain why JVL are not affiliated to the Labour Party. I note that JLM are always portrayed and referred to as affiliated to Labour which gives them greater credence. Given the evidence available could the affiliated position of JLM be challenged.

  • Anti-fascist says:

    You mean the real number? Possibly fewer than JVL.

  • Steve Griffiths says:

    JLM membership has ‘surged’ this year to over 3000, according to the Jewish Chronicle (with picture of Jeremy Corbyn) after appeals for more members to have a say in the Labour leadership election. Membership is open to non-Jews. It’d be good to know what the JVL membership is – and to see more campaigning to cement its place as the only Jewish organisation reflecting Labour values.

  • Susan drake says:

    If the labour party continues to move towards supporting the Friends of Israel lobby group, I shall withdraw my membership of the party.

  • Sam Bentley says:

    This has to be the most disturbing event yet. Lisa Nandy declaring that anybody who says the 1948 Nakba was racist is anti-Semitic makes me worry for all Labour left wing and pro-Palestine supporters. This goes against everything Labour stands for

  • Janet Crosley says:

    I cannot understand the candidates . Although these ‘unsaid’ anti Corbyn statements by them all, could be a hidden help as to why the election was so disappointing. Do they really have such a lack of what’s going on in Israel and the JLM, Chief Rabbi et al. Don’t they realise the reason for the dislike and campaign of lies about Corbyn is his support and recognition of a Palestinian state. QED

  • Abe Hayeem says:

    The behaviour all four candidates is disgraceful. It shows a deep ignorance of all the facts and detailed analyses and reports that show that Labour iOS the least antisemitic of all Ul political parties, and yet labour is being singled out for attack by its own affiliated groups like JLM and LFI. Jewish Voice for Labour is now being made a pariah in what is a distinctly antisemitic attack by all these forces. All this leaves Labour members in despair as to whom to select as no-one stood up for Jeremy Corbyn and have completely succumbed to the lies and distortions that have been peddled about in the Jewish media and right wing press over the last four years.

  • Anti-fascist says:

    “Over 3,000”? Oh, sorry, just saw a giraffe fly past my window…

  • Mark Francis says:

    Also, the JVL actually WANTED a Labour Government in December 2019.
    It seems that the JLM did not.
    Why is the JLM still here?

Comments are now closed.