Labour figures who defended Israel’s actions appear to be in full retreat after widespread condemnation of their statements in response to the massacre of around sixty unarmed Palestinians during yesterday’s demonstrations and the serious wounding of as many as two thousand more.
Labour Friends of Israel’s (LFI) statement read:
LFI deleted that tweet – without comment or apology – and replaced it with a diluted version after it triggered revulsion on social media.
LFI chair Joan Ryan went further, writing an article for the Jewish Times titled “Time to end Gaza’s cycle of violence“.
The article still pushed the idea that Israel was legitimately defending its border – a claim rejected by the United Nations earlier today – and that Hamas is the real threat to both Palestinian and Israeli lives. However, it appeared to row back hard on LFI’s initial blaming of Palestinians for the Palestinian deaths yesterday, saying that Israel must exercise restraint and stating:
LFI condemns the deaths of any innocent peaceful protesters and think it is important that urgent action is taken to prevent the loss of further human life.
Right-wing former National Executive Committee (NEC) member Jasmin Beckett yesterday matched or even exceeded the outrage triggered by LFI, with this tweet taking direct aim at Labour’s strong condemnation of the slaughter:
Parliamentary aide Ben Sellers’ response was typical of the appalled reaction:
But author Alex Nunns pointed out that Ms Beckett will shortly be asking Labour members to vote for her to return to the NEC:
A day after her initial tweet, Ms Beckett followed it up with an attempt to soften it by claiming that her initial tweet was only a partial opinion as it would be ‘impossible’ to properly express thoughts on the matter in a single tweet.
But readers seemed unimpressed:
In spite of the back-pedalling, complaints have been sent to Labour’s General Secretary about the comments, numerous Labour constituency and branch parties are tabling motions calling on Labour personnel to disassociate themselves from LFI and a petition is underway calling on the Labour Party to cut all links with the group because of the comments widely condemned as victim-blaming.