The Labour Friends of Israel reception at the party’s conference has traditionally been attended by the Labour leader. But this year, as in recent years, Jeremy Corbyn did not attend. Instead it fell to the party’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, to make an appearance. Watson was introduced as a ‘long standing friend of Israel’ and he used his speech to call out those who have attacked pro-Israeli MPs within the Labour party. Here’s what he said:
We have an obligation to rid this party of anti Semitism. I recognise the hurt that has been caused. I recognise the pain that has been thrust upon our friends in the Jewish community. I know how failing to tackle a problem risks bringing eternal shame. I just hope that we can do what we can to rebuild that trust and confidence. And I know with people like Joan Ryan chairing this organisation – hounded out by people that have only just joined the Labour party. I know that journey will be long but I tell you we will do everything we can to rebuild that trust.
Israeli ambassador Mark Regev also spoke – and used his speech to take a pop at Jeremy Corbyn:
‘When self-proclaimed anti-racists…claim that we Zionists do not know history, ironically…it is they who have not studied history or learnt from it’
Mr S couldn’t help but notice that Tom Watson, standing behind Regev at the time, seemed to enjoy the ambassador’s comments…