Zionist Watson: ''I am proud to defend Israel''

Tom Watson: I am proud to defend Israel and we have moral obligation to rid Labour of antisemitism

Tom Watson at Labour conference

Deputy leader tells Labour Friends of Israel event: ‘I am genuinely proud of each and every one of you’.

Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson has told of his pride at speaking out in support of Israel and warned of the “moral obligation” to rid his party of antisemitism.
Speaking at the Labour Friends of Israel reception at the party’s conference in Liverpool on Tuesday night, Mr Watson received loud cheers as he said: “I am genuinely proud of each and every one of you for attending this event.
“You know what this means. We know what this means. I stand here as a proud and long standing supporter of LFI.”
He added: “We have a moral obligation to rid this party of antisemitism and I know it’s important to all of us in this room that all of those commitments are delivered.”
Mr Watson delivered his speech only hours after the conference hall was filled with Palestinian flags raised by activists inside the during the foreign affairs debate.
But in a significant move, Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry also attended the LFI reception where she was applauded.
Speaking alongside LFI chair Joan Ryan, Israeli Ambassador Mark Regev and Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin from Israel’s Labor Party, Mr Watson attacked those who “draw grotesque parallels between the Jewish state and the Nazis who killed six million Jews.”
He also attacked those on the far-left who had “only just joined” Labour accusing them of attempting to “hound out” Ms Ryan from her Enfield North constituency over her support for LFI.
Paying further tributes to “courageous colleagues” Luciana Berger and Ian Austin, Mr Watson added that failing to tackle the party’s antisemitism problem risked bringing “eternal shame.”
Ms Ryan, who was close to tears as she spoke, said there was “incomprehension that our party could have treated a minority community in this country with such disregard, arrogance and contempt.
“A bewilderment that our party – with its long and honourable history of fighting racism – should have decided to lecture Jews on what does and does not constitute antisemitism.”
Ms Ryan, who narrowly lost a vote of no confidence forced by hard-left anti-Zionist activists in her constituency, added: “We must stand up for the Middle East’s only democracy and free society.
“We must stand up to those who deny the Jewish people’s right to self-determination and attempt to brand it a “racist endeavour”.
“And we must stand up against antisemitism whenever and wherever we see it.”
Emotions also ran high at another packed fringe event earlier on Tuesday evening in which Holocaust survivor Susan Pollack spoke alongside Jewish MP Luciana Berger at an event organised by the Holocaust Educational Trust.
Ms Pollack, a Hungarian-born Auschwitz survivor, criticised Mr Corbyn over his support for an antisemitic mural in Tower Hamlets which was later removed.
Ms Pollack said: “That caricature about the Jews – as a leader he has responsibility. ‘I didn’t know’, is not an excuse – leaders must be leaders.”
Ms Berger – who was offered police protection throughout the Liverpool conference as a result of what the security services deemed to be genuine threat to her safety – also criticised the Labour leader over his failure to tackle antisemitism.
She also said it was shameful that pro-Corbyn MP Chris Williamson had shared a platform with people expelled from the party over antisemitism allegations at another fringe event in Liverpool.

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