Jeremy Corbyn will be a “disaster” for Israel unless he changes his views on the Middle East, a member of the Israeli parliament warned last night.
Michal Biran, part of Israel’s Labor Party, urged activists at a fringe meeting at the UK Labour Party’s conference to try and change Mr Corbyn’s stance and rhetoric on the Middle East.
Throughout Mr Corbyn’s leadership election campaign the Islington North MP was forced to clarify why he had attended events run by holocaust deniers and why he had described anti-Israeli terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah as “friends”.
There has been no suggestion that Mr Corbyn himself is anti-Semitic, but his association with such people has seen concerns raised of his sense of judgement.
Ms Biran yesterday said the election of Mr Corbyn has created “a weird situation” and added: “I think Corbyn does not see that Israel is the only place in the Middle East where you can see a gay parade. It is the only place in the Middle East where you have freedom of speech, equality to women and other aspects that are pure democratic issues.”
Addressing activists alongside Labour MPs Mike Gapes and John Woodcock, she said: “I think it has a lot to do with what you do. If Corbyn can see that you just don’t care, and everybody is ok with him doing what he has always done and thinking what he has always thought then I can see the result is going to be a disaster for Israel and I think – it might not be my place to say – but also a disaster for the UK Labour Party.
“I ask you for your help, not to be quiet but to stand up and say what you think to your MPs, to your colleagues and we need your backing in this fight.”
She added: “There is a difference between criticising the Israeli government and being friendly with Hamas and Hezbollah. There is no way in the world that you can say there is any common ground. The society they imagine and they pursue is one that none of us sitting in this room would like to live in.”
During the Labour leadership campaign, the Jewish Chronicle newspaper wrote an open letter to Mr Corbyn asking him to explain seven “key questions”.
These included why did he donate to Deir Yassin Remembered, an organisation the Chronicle claimed was run by a Holocaust denier called Paul Eisen.
Mr Corbyn’s office replied that he had “no recollection whatsoever” of making a donation to the group.
On the issue of why he described Hamas and Hezbollah as “friends”, Mr Corbyn’s office said: “The term ‘friends’ was used purely as diplomatic language in the context of dialogue, not an endorsement of a particular set of views.
“In the difficult quest of establishing a peace, it is common for the term ‘friend’ to be used as part of the process.
“‘Friend’ in this case becomes a term of diplomacy as an aid to dialogue between disparate groups rather than a description of a relationship or an endorsement of a set of views.”