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UK Labour canvasses with Israel politicians in effort to win Jewish votes

Labour Party leader, Sir Keir Starmer speaks to locals during local election campaigning on April 28, 2022 in Workington, England [Ian Forsyth/Getty Images]
Labour Party leader, Sir Keir Starmer speaks to locals during local election campaigning on April 28, 2022 in Workington, England [Ian Forsyth/Getty Images]

UK Labour leader Keir Starmer and senior shadow cabinet ministers are said to be on a charm offensive to woe Britain's Jewish community by canvassing for next week's local elections with officials from Israel's Labor Party. That's according to a report in the Guardian which said that a delegation from Israel were taken door-knocking in Barnet, north London, which has a large Jewish community, in what seems to be an attempt to show Labour's commitment to Israel.

Starmer and Labour Deputy Leader Angela Rayner hosted nine officials including the Deputy Mayor of Tel Aviv, Chen Arieli, the party's chief executive, Nir Rosen, and senior staffers from the Israeli leader's office. The Guardian claims that the move is designed to underline the contrast with Jeremy Corbyn's leadership. The former Labour leader was mired in scandal because of his stance on Israel and Palestine and was dogged by allegations of anti-Semitism.

To the disappointment of many in the right of the Labour Party, who it's claimed led a campaign of vilification against Corbyn, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) found no evidence of anti-Semitism attributable to the former leader, or any evidence of institutional racism. However, the commission did find "specific examples of harassment, discrimination and political interference."

Earlier this week, the actor Tracy-Ann Oberman, who was a strong critic of Corbyn and quit the party when he became leader, had to pay "substantial damages" and apologise to a politician and academic who she falsely accused of anti-Semitism.

Labour's Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Wes Streeting is believed to have hosted the delegation for dinner and the Israeli group also met the Shadow Foreign Secretary, David Lammy, and discussed campaign tactics with senior figures in Labour HQ including the General Secretary, David Evans, and campaign director Morgan McSweeney.

Jonathan Cummings, international adviser to the Israeli Labor leader, Merav Michaeli, said it was a "great relief" to be in contact with the party and said they were struck by the time they had been given by senior politicians, reported the Guardian.

Since replacing Corbyn, Starmer, a self-declared Zionist "without qualification" has been dogged about mending relation with pro-Israel section of UK's Jewish community. Earlier this month he said he did not accept the findings of an Amnesty International report which found Israel was committing the crime of apartheid.

OPINION: With near consensus over Israeli apartheid, will UK Labour move to the right side of history?

Critics slammed the Labour leader for his comments and accused him of peddling "alternative facts" to maintain his strong support for the apartheid state. Amnesty is not the only rights group to reach this conclusion. There is now a consensus amongst major human rights group including Human Rights WatchB'Tselem and others about Israel's practice of apartheid.

At the same time Labour under Starmer has been accused of "purging Jews from the party" that are critical of Israel. Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) – the main grouping of left-wing Jews in the Labour party known for their highly critical stance on Israel – made the charge last year after several high-profile Jewish members were suspended.

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