Afternoon Tea in Jerusalem Blog

Life in Israel

Israeli commercial life and society

In addition to my work as a business coach, one of my interests is blogging about life in Israel. This is a country full of contrasts – over eight million citizens living in an area the size of Wales. You can see snow and the lowest place on the globe in the same day. Although surrounded by geopolitical extremes, Israel has achieved a decade of high economic growth. My work brings me in contact with an array of new companies, exciting technologies and dynamic characters. Sitting back with a relaxing cup of strong tea (with milk), you realise just how much there is to appreciate in the Holyland. Large or small operations, private sector or non profit, my clients provide experiences from which others can learn and benefit.


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Jeremy Corbyn – the view from Jerusalem

Today, Thursday, nearly 7,000 Christians marched are openly and proudly marching through the streets of Jerusalem. About 24 hours earlier, Jeremy Corbyn, the controversial leader of the Labour Party in the UK, spoke to his annual conference. Regarding Jews and Israel, he said:

I believe we are all stronger from listening and learning from each other.
The Jewish people have suffered a long and terrible history of persecution and genocide. I was humbled to see a memorial to that suffering two years ago, when I visited the former Nazi concentration camp at Terezin.
The row over antisemitism has caused immense hurt and anxiety in the Jewish community and great dismay in the Labour Party. But I hope we can work together to draw a line under it.
I say this to all in the Jewish community:
This party, this movement, will always be implacable campaigners against antisemitism and racism in all its forms.
We are your ally.
And the next Labour government will guarantee whatever support necessary to ensure the security of Jewish community centres and places of worship, as we will for any other community experiencing hateful behaviour and physical attacks.
We will work with Jewish communities to eradicate antisemitism, both from our party and wider society.
And with your help I will fight for that with every breath I possess.
Anti-racism is integral to our very being. It’s part of who you all are, and it’s part of who I am.

……. And let me next say a few words about the ongoing denial of justice and rights to the Palestinian people. Our Party is united in condemning the shooting of hundreds of unarmed demonstrators in Gaza by Israeli forces and the passing of Israel’s discriminatory Nation-State Law.
The continuing occupation, the expansion of illegal settlements and the imprisonment of Palestinian children are an outrage. We support a two-state solution to the conflict with a secure Israel and a viable and secure Palestinian state.
But a quarter of a century on from the Oslo Accords we are no closer to justice or peace and the Palestinian tragedy continues, while the outside world stands by.
As my great Israeli friend Uri Avnery who died this year put it: “What is the alternative to peace? A catastrophe for both peoples”.
And in order to help make that two-state settlement a reality we will recognise a Palestinian state as soon as we take office.

Promising, but as with much of the speech, great words and little substance. To find out if the deeds can match the words, it is worth referring back to the debate on Tuesday, when the conference voted to ban arms’ sales to Israel. The reasoning is that because Israel is deemed a goliath of an aggressor against the Palestinians, it should only be allowed to defend itself against terror with one hand tied behind its back.

Now this debate was considered the fourth most urgent issue at the conference, as judged by delegates. It was placed higher than the National Health Service or pensions to name a few. In fact, Israel was the only country selected for a foreign policy debate.

Some considered the discussion an empty gesture by an irrelevant force. Judging from the popularity of Corbyn’s own speech, I find this naïve. The debate on Israel had to be carefully orchestrated. And despite the control, many speakers managed to work into their comments anti-Semitic elements. For example:

If you want to know how that orchestration (of alleged antisemitism smears) works you need to watch that Al Jazeera documentary The Lobby.

What really concerned me was the chanting not reported about in the general press. At the beginning of the discussion, many delegates were bellowing out the phrase “Palestine will be free from the river to the sea”.

Sounds innocuous? It is part of the PLO constitution. It refers to the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. The constitution explicitly says that Jews will not be allowed to live in that area.

Nobody took any action to stop these chants. And where exactly are the Jews of Palestine supposed to live? In a Corbynite Britain?

In this context, what do the 360 words of Corbyn’s speech quoted above add up to?

Let me provide an answer in manner that challenges the newspeak of Corbyn. He argues that he talks to the IRA, Hamas, the Iranians, et al because he believes that in order to make peace, you have to talk to the enemy. Sounds potentially plausible.

It is funny how he never talks to his own enemies like leading rabbis in the UK or the Zionist organisations in the UK. Why is that? What do those lack of action signify?


I am currently reading a book called The Holocaust by Laurence Rees. With some ironic timing, his description of Hitler’s manipulation of the economic chaos of the late 1920s and the speeches of the Fuhrer are worringly familiar to a politician of the modern era.

Comments (2)

  1. A few weeks ago one of my adult children, raised here in Israel, asked me if I thought something like the Holocaust could happen again. I replied that I though it quite likely that something *not* like the Holocaust could happen again, since the virus of antisemitism is always mutating.

    Mr. Corbyn is not Hitler and extermination camps in rural England are not on the cards, but that’s scant comfort when the second largest party in a major western country is not only tolerating Jew hatred within its own ranks, but setting a new norm of tolerance for antisemitism in the wider society.

    Here’s something I wrote a few weeks ago (some of which is already coming true):

    It’s not 1936 in Berlin, but there are plenty of things to worry about concerning a possible Labour government led by Mr. Corbyn without getting into Holocaust hyperbole. I ran my own thoughts by a respected and well informed member of the UK community and, with their help, here are a list of some of the things to realistically fear from such a government:

    1) Immediate recognition of the “State of Palestine”.
    2) An end to arms sales to “both sides” in the conflict. (Since the UK doesn’t sell arms to the PA, that would mean an embargo on Israel.)
    3) The continued purge of pro-Israel and Jewish members of the Labour Party. This won’t be done on the grounds that they are Jews, or even “Zionists”, but because they are “Blairites” and other deviationists who won’t get with the program. With their successful exclusion it would be easy to portray Jews as the enemy of the working class.
    4) Continued promotion of the “right kind of Jews” as a fig leaf against accusations of antisemitism.
    5) Continued promotion of antisemitic tropes in public discourse, making them progressively more acceptable to those who are not sensitive to the issue.
    6) With no center left to apply restraint, promotion of BDS by trades unions and Labour controlled councils, leading into more of 3.
    7) Possible worse actions that are less likely but still possible might include:
    :: Increased scrutiny of Jewish charities with any link to Israel for any conceivable infraction of the rules.
    :: Reintroduction of foreign exchange control to limit capital flight (more credible post Brexit). This might have an effect on aliya.
    :: War crime trials against Israelis visiting the UK.
    :: Potential attacks on faith schools.
    :: Attacks on kosher food, not as such, but by way of BDS.

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