Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry, has said that “We need a bit of movement on both sides”, while attempting to reach out to the Jewish community to counter antisemitism in the Labour Party.
In a wide-ranging interview with the Times of Israel during her visit to Israel last week, she said that: “There is clearly a lot of work to be done between the Labour Party and the British Jewish community. And I am prepared to do whatever it takes in order to be able to open channels again and to see if we can sort this out.” She added, however, that: “We need a bit of movement on both sides.”
Ms Thornberry also said that: “I don’t think that the antisemitism in the Labour Party is any worse than it is in our society generally. I want my Labour Party to be held to higher standards than the rest of British society.”
While we welcome her initiative to engage with the Jewish community and to confront antisemitism in the Labour Party, her request for “a bit of movement on both sides” is simply outrageous. It places responsibility on the Jewish community for the failure of the Labour Party to address its antisemitism problem, and implies that the Jewish community needs to change its ways.
Ms Thornberry was on a four day trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories, her first official trip to the region in her current role. Her schedule reportedly included a series of meetings with senior Israeli Labour Party MKs, a visit to a kibbutz on the Gazan border and attending a wreath-laying at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial. Her visit was organised by Labour Friends of Israel and Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East.