Israel's Labor party suspends ties with UK's Labour chief
April 10, 2018 - 10:37 AM
JERUSALEM - Israel's Labor Party suspended ties with the leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party over its alleged anti-Semitism on Tuesday, citing what it said was Jeremy Corbyn's "hostility" toward Jews in his country.
Allegations of Labour anti-Semitism have grown since pro-Palestinian socialist Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of Britain's main opposition party in 2015. Some in the party say Corbyn, a longtime critic of Israeli policies toward the Palestinians, has allowed abuse to go unchecked.
Israeli Labor Party leader Avi Gabbay said Tuesday he sent a letter to Jeremy Corbyn announcing his decision. He said the move comes ahead of Israel's Holocaust Memorial Day and serves as a reminder to "our commitment to combating anti-Semitism of all forms and in all places. "
He wrote to Corbyn: "It is my responsibility to acknowledge the hostility that you have shown to the Jewish community and the anti-Semitic statements and actions you have allowed as Leader of the Labour Party UK."
"This is in addition to your very public hatred of the policies of the Government of the state of Israel, many of which regard the security of our citizens and actions of our soldiers - policies where the opposition and coalition in Israel are aligned," he wrote.
Gabbay said the suspended relations apply to Corbyn only and not his party and recalled "the long history of friendship" that had existed between the two parties in the past.
Corbyn faces intensifying criticism from outsiders and some of his own members for what is viewed as a failure to address reports of anti-Semitism involving some Labour supporters.
The latest confrontation within the party began when a 6-year-old Facebook posting was brought to public attention last month by a Labour Party lawmaker who is Jewish.
In the post, Corbyn expressed support for an artist who created a street mural that included a number of anti-Jewish stereotypes.
Corbyn later apologized, saying he had not looked closely enough at the mural before giving it his backing. But many in the party doubt his sincerity about tackling anti-Semitism.
Corbyn said Tuesday that his party was "utterly determined in every way to drive out anti-Semitism from our society. And, where it exists in any party, to drive it out, including my own."
"I would be very happy to have that discussion with them," he said of the Israeli party. "I think they should have done me the courtesy of asking me first."
The Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council have alleged that the Labour Party has shown a "repeated institutional failure" to address anti-Jewish prejudice.
Associated Press writer Jill Lawless in London contributed to this report.
News from © The Associated Press, 2018