OPINION: The world has failed the Jewish people, again.

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OPINION: The world has failed the Jewish people, again.

We cannot allow Hamas to deprive another generation of Israelis and Palestinians the prospect of peace, writes Steve McCabe MP, chair of Labour Friends of Israel

Kibbutz Kfar Aza
Kibbutz Kfar Aza

LFI (Labour Friends of Israel) was founded a little under 10 years after the establishment of the State of Israel. We’ve supported Israel through the good times – the miracle of 1967, Labor election victories and the Oslo Accords – and through the more difficult ones: the shock of 1973, the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the suicide bombings two decades ago.

But this year’s LFI annual lunch has never taken place under such a dark cloud as now.

The State of Israel was established to provide the Jewish people with a safe haven after centuries of persecution. But when Jews are butchered in the streets; babies mutilated, women raped, and children torn from their mother’s arms; and elderly hostages paraded through the streets, then we know Israel is not yet the safe haven that the Jewish people have a right to expect.

The pogrom of 7 October is evidence, yet again, that the world has failed the Jewish people.

That is why we stand with Israel as it seeks to eliminate Hamas’ instruments of terror: its military and political infrastructure. The conflict between Israel and Hamas stretches back more than three decades. It is time to bring it to a close: not simply to free Gaza from Hamas and the Israeli people from terror, but to remove the principal obstacle to a future peace. Hamas’ terrorists murdered countless Israelis in the 1990s and 2000s.

They deprived the people of Gaza of the chance for a new beginning in 2005. And they derailed the Oslo process. Hamas has robbed one generation of Israelis and Palestinians of the prospect of peace. We cannot allow them to deprive another.

But we in Britain must do more than offer Israel our sympathies. There is a challenge at home and we must urgently confront it. Since 7 October, we’ve seen like never before the danger posed by anti-Zionist antisemitism: Jewish schoolkids have been told not to wear their uniform; posters featuring the faces of kidnapped Jewish children torn down by people who seem to have lost not simply their sense of decency but their very notion of humanity; and security around Jewish places of worship has been further increased as demonstrators on our streets call for jihad, chant extremist slogans, and extol Hamas’ crimes. It’s the same right across Europe and the United States.

Steve McCabe MP

The cause of this outpouring of hate is not hard to discern. The long years of demonisation and delegitimisation to which Israel has been subjected – the fanatical resolutions passed by Stalinist activists; the torrent of condemnations issued by international institutions; the poison spewed by the mullahs in Tehran – have, together, led us to where we are today.

The result: Israel – uniquely among nations – forced to respond to a terrorist attack by arranging screenings of the horrors it endured to prove they actually happened.

Anti-Zionist antisemitism is alive and well. Thanks to Keir Starmer, it’s been driven from the Labour party. But now we have a new battle on our hands. No Jew should feel unsafe in 21st century Britain. As we saw on Sunday, the fightback has thankfully now begun. LFI will work with the next Labour government and stand with the Jewish community until the scourge of antisemitism is removed from our streets.

Mere months ago, I visited Kibbutz Kfar Aza on an LFI delegation. Since then, the peace and beauty we experienced that day has been cruelly shattered and the communities – modelled on values so close to our hearts – have been brutally torn apart. This wasn’t a battlefield, it was a slaughterhouse. The atrocities committed by the terrorists on 7 October must never be allowed to happen again.

We must redouble our efforts against terrorism here at home. Having led the long campaign in parliament to persuade the government to fully proscribe Hezbollah and Hamas, LFI will keep up the pressure for the government to tackle the threat posed by Iran both here at home and in the region. We must ban the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps; expel Khamenei’s personal representative in the UK; and shut down Iran’s ideological centres in Britain.

Especially in these dark days, we must also continue to work for a brighter future for Israelis and Palestinians alike.

As LFI has consistently argued, we must urgently address the humanitarian crisis and devise a post-war Marshall Plan for Gaza and we must empower and reform the Palestinian Authority so it can help realise the Palestinian people’s legitimate right to self-determination. We must also marginalise the enemies of peace. President Abbas must stamp out antisemitic incitement and end the disgraceful payment of salaries to terrorists.

The Israeli government must freeze settlement construction, especially that which threatens Palestinian contiguity, and confront extremists.

At the same time, we must harness massive international investment to promote a culture of peace. There’s never been a better time to establish an International Fund for Israeli-Palestinian Peace or a more important time to support the Arab-Israeli normalisation process.

Now is also the time to remember the great insight of those Labor lions – Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin: Israel’s security is the foundation of peace and peace is the only real guarantee of Israel’s security.

  • Steve McCabe MP is chair of Labour Friends of Israel
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