Mike Freer is MP for Finchley and Golders Green.
As Britain’s Jewish community celebrated the festival of Rosh Hashana this week, many may be concerned about what the New Year will bring following last weekend’s Labour leadership election.
After five years of a tense relationship between the Jewish community and Labour party under Ed Miliband, it seems that the Left are keen to sever all ties with Britain’s Jews in their election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader. His election has all at once overtly politicised and alienated an entire community that has long been an integral part of British society. Corbyn’s well-documented relationships with Hizbollah and Hamas and questionable connections to Holocaust deniers have caused public anxiety amongst the Jewish community, and rightly so. We should all be concerned by a man who calls friends those who wish to extinguish our allies.
Last summer’s Labour-led motion in the House of Commons to recognise the state of Palestine was seen by many as a betrayal, and Corbyn’s election to Labour leader signals there could be more strident calls from the Left on this subject. Indeed, the most senior members of the newly appointed Shadow Cabinet all voted to recognise the state of Palestine – co-governed by Corbyn’s friends Hamas – including the Shadow Chancellor, Shadow Foreign and Shadow Home Secretaries.
So vehemently in agreement with this motion was Corbyn that he opted to act as a teller in the voting lobbies to ensure, in his own words, “that this historic vote took place.”. Which all makes Corbyn’s triumphant words upon his victory “welcome, welcome to our party, welcome to our movement” ring decidedly hollow: Labour is simply not as inclusive as it purports to be.
The upper echelons of the Labour party could now be considered to be overwhelmingly hostile to this country’s Jewish community: members have just chosen as their Mayoral candidate a vocal supporter of a premature Palestinian state with past links to campaigns for suspected terrorists. In a half-cocked attempt to assuage the Jewish community, there are rumours that the new Shadow Cabinet could have within it a ‘Minister for Jews’.
This would be an offensive and inadequate sticking plaster over the cavernous wound being created; and, I imagine, would serve only to further alienate the community. Presumably Corbyn feels such an appointment would give him licence to pursue his aggressively anti-Israel views without falling foul of claims of anti-Semitism – a misguided and insulting assumption. Labour members and members of the public should be concerned that the new leader of Her Majesty’s loyal opposition is violently opposed to the only bastion of democracy in a region comprised almost solely of countries who suppress human rights with remarkable zeal.
The Conservative Party has a long and proud history of representation, membership and support of this country’s Jewish community, which includes funding for faith schools, security at Jewish premises, categoric support for Shechita (one can only wonder if Shadow DEFRA Secretary and vegan Kerry McCarthy will be as supportive) and unwavering support for Israel at home and abroad. Trade between Israel and Britain is booming, with Israeli pharmaceutical companies now supplying one in seven of every drug prescribed by the NHS, not to mention military and technological trade and support. This is in addition to the obvious benefit of having a strategic partner in the midst of the current mayhem that is the Middle East, with whom we share common goals and beliefs.
These beliefs are not in danger of being stripped from the Conservative Party as they have been from Labour. Any candidate standing under the banner of a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour party would be deceiving the electorate to claim otherwise. Conservatives will continue to stand up for the principles of the Jewish community who can rely on us to represent them at every level of Government and speak up for the values that we all share as Britons.