Tuesday, July 21, 2015

UK: Labour leadership candidates clash at Jewish community hustings

The Jewish Chronicle reports:

The Labour leadership candidates have outlined their positions on Israel in a packed hustings with the Jewish community.

Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Jeremy Corbyn and Liz Kendall appeared at the JW3 community centre at an event organised by Labour Friends of Israel and the JC.

Three quarters of the session focussed on Israel, with questions on boycotts, the current Israeli government, West Bank settlements and the 2017 centenary of the Balfour declaration.

Mr Corbyn was asked about previous comments in which he had referred to Hamas and Hizbollah terrorists as "friends".  He told the packed audience that he had spoken of Hizbollah using the term during a welcome to a number of groups he had invited to speak in Parliament. 

WATCH AGAIN: Labour Party Leadership Hustings LIVE STREAM

The backbencher suggested he would back a boycott of goods from Israeli settlements in the West Bank, but that he would oppose an academic boycott of the country.

But Mr Corbyn did not directly answer a question from Community Security Trust communications director Mark Gardner about his leadership of the Stop the War Coalition and its support of the anti-Israel Quds Day rally. Mr Gardner described the event as a "festival of hate". [...]

In his closing statement, Mr Burnham railed against the damage done to the party's relationship with the Jewish community in the past five years.

"How did it get to this for Labour and the Jewish community, that it feels so alienated from the Labour Party?
This cannot carry on," he said.  Ms Kendall said that the event's focus on matters relating to Israel showed how "damaged" the relationship had become.  More.

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