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September 22, 2015 1:13 am

UK Labour Friends of Israel Invites Jeremy Corbyn for Party Reception

avatar by Eliezer Sherman

Jeremy Corbyn. Photo: Screenshot.

Jeremy Corbyn. Photo: Screenshot.

Labour Friends of Israel invited Britain’s new opposition leader and head of that party, Jeremy Corbyn, to address its reception at a party meeting in Brighton next week, the U.K. Jewish Chronicle reported on Monday.

According to the Chronicle, it is customary for either the Labour leader or the foreign affairs spokesperson to address the event. Though Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn is already signed up to speak at next Tuesday’s gathering, LFI still hopes for Corbyn’s attendance.

The anti-war Corbyn, who beat out three opponents to become the head of Labour this month, is widely seen as hostile to Israel, having called members of Hamas and Hezbollah “our friends,” spoken out for the freedom of two men imprisoned on charges of involvement in the bombing of a Jewish charity, and met with the antisemitic head of Israel’s Islamic Movement’s Northern Branch, Raed Saleh, among other things.

LFI chair MP Joan Ryan said his attendance would mark the “start of a process,” though she admitted she was unsure whether Corbyn was planning to attend.

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“What I will do over the coming weeks and months is have open dialogue with the party’s new leadership. The invite is the beginning of that process. It’s not a one-off – I’ve also asked for a meeting with him,” said Ryan. “We have an open door and we will go through it with all our good and strong arguments.”

Though Corbyn has officially backed the vision of two states for two peoples supported by his party’s manifesto, LFI stated before his election win that the “deep concerns” over Corbyn’s positions in the pro-Israel world raised “serious questions.”

Perhaps the LFI reception will be a platform of sorts for Corbyn to clear up some of these concerns.

Correction: The article previously stated that MP Mike Gapes, member of Knesset Erel Margalit and Sarah Sackman, a U.K. attorney who ran in the general election last May, will speak at the LFI event. Rather, they will be addressing a discussion on the two-state solution co-hosted with British advocacy group Bicom.


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