Jeremy Corbyn and Britain’s largest political party stand strong with Palestine at annual Liverpool conference
As soon the conference began, one thing was clear: Palestine was going to have a significant place in the discussions and resolutions. What was also clear was that there is a segment within the U.K. Labour Party that is deeply Zionist, opposes Corbyn, and works within the party to undermine him.
by Miko Peled
The 2018 U.K. Labour conference held in Liverpool, September 23-26, will be remembered as a turning point in U.K. relations to the Palestinian issue. Britain, which is rightfully accused for its role in promoting the Zionist takeover of Palestine, now seems prepared to make amends. In his final speech, on the final day of the conference and following many events and votes on the Palestine issue, Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn made it clear that a Labour government led by him would hold Israel responsible for its human-rights violations, killing of unarmed protesters, and detention of children. Labour also made it clear it is ready to review the sales of British-made arms to Israel. All of this was achieved in spite of the fact that elements within the Labour Party have been striving to undermine Corbyn’s leadership.
Part 5 - The Hareidi Community stands up
A rare and extremely fruitful collaboration that I experienced during the conference was with the U.K. Haredi, or Ultra-Orthodox, Jewish community. In a statement published before the conference, Shraga Stern, a local Londoner and a member of the Haredi community wrote, “We believe that the anti-Semitism smear and witch hunt against Jeremy Corbyn is a Zionist agenda and has all the footprints leading to that direction. It is being promoted by the Board of Deputies and by the self-made unelected JLC, who are a well-known pro-Israel bodies- and it’s completely cruel and unjustified.”
Leaders of this community came out to stand against false accusations of anti-Semitism in the U.K. in general as well as in the Labour Party. The Haredi community, which makes up over 20 percent of the 265,000 Jewish people who live in the U.K., came out with a clear message refuting the claims that Jewish people in the U.K. fear for their lives. Regardless of any individual’s political leanings, they said, it was clear that Jeremy Corbyn has always been a friend of U.K. Jewish people and is not in the slightest way a racist or anti-Semite, and that Jewish people live well and have no fear of anti-Semitism.
I had the honor of sharing a stage with Rabbi Ahron Cohen, who drove up from Manchester for the final day of the conference, and to stand with Rabbi Beck, who drove up from London to express support. In answer to a question regarding Israel’s right to exist, Rabbi Cohen replied, “what is Israel doing there to begin with?” and he went on to discuss the trouble that was brought on the indigenous communities in Palestine, both Arab and Jew, as a result of the ZIonist occupation of Palestine and the creation of Israel.
Rabbi Beck put it in another way, “I live in the U.K. over 30 years and I never saw a British soldier. In Israel every child sees armed soldiers all the time. How can anyone claim that life for Jews in Israel is better or safer than [in] the U.K.?”
The presence of the Haredi community, as well as their unwavering support, was a tremendous boost to Corbyn and to those in the party who know the anti-Semitism charges are false. It was an enormous step for the rabbis of this community — who made the effort to attend the conference, even though it was held during the Jewish High Holidays. It was a real pleasure to stand outside the conference hall on a sunny day in Liverpool with these fine people and to see the tremendous support we were getting from conference attendees as they were leaving the hall.
Even with its shortcomings, one must admit that the conference was an enormous boost to the cause for justice in Palestine. Furthermore, Jeremy Corbyn, who has been attacked by Zionist and neo-liberal groups working in unison, is as unwilling to bend as ever. In fact, one could argue that the U.K. may soon have a prime minister who is a truly a decent and honest man, and a true socialist who also cares deeply for Palestine.