We Believe in Israel director describes speaking to majority NON-Jewish zionist audiences


An old recording of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn criticising a lack of appreciation of irony on the part of a group of ‘zionists’ – pro-Israel campaigners – at a meeting has been seized on by his critics, who have attempted to portray the comment as racist.

Those wishing to attack Corbyn have claimed that ‘zionists’ was ‘code’ for all Jewish people, which ignores the obvious fact that many Jewish people – including many observant communities – are not zionist or are even passionately anti-zionist.

However, it also ignores an even bigger truth: not all zionists are Jewish either. Far from it, in fact.

Luke Akehurst is secretary of right-wing Labour faction Labour First and about as passionately anti-Corbyn as could be. He is also a director of BICOM’s ‘We Believe in Israel’.

As you would expect, Akehurst is also a passionate supporter of Israel and of zionism. In 2015, for example, he told the Jewish News:

We will ensure the legitimacy of Zionism

In 2014, Akehurst spoke to the Jewish Telegraph about why he, as a non-Jew, is such an enthusiastic supporter – but he also provided other information crucial to the current attempt to misuse Jeremy Corbyn’s critique of a group of zionists as being directed at all Jewish people. Here are the crucial quotes:

The younger MPs who prominently identify with the Labour Friends of Israel disproportionately come from the same background as me… That is the long-term benefit of all of the work that the UJS does.

MPs Jim Murphy, Michael Dugher and Stephen Twigg, current BICOM chief executive Dermot Kehoe, former BICOM chief executive Lorna Fitzsimons and I have all come from the same background. I have never felt isolated over Israel in the Labour Party.

 I went to Stirling with someone from the Israeli embassy and spoke there to 100 Christian supporters. I went to Dundee, which is the last place you would expect 40 pro-Israel people.

I also went with Stephen Jaffe, of the Board of Deputies, to Bath to a packed meeting of Christians from across Somerset and Wiltshire, where there is a small Jewish population. But the area still has the potential to build a pro-Israel campaign.

In case anyone thinks too much is being made of Akehurst’s words, the Jewish Telegraph underlined the point – twice and even more explosively:

We Believe in Israel aims to build up grassroots pro-Israel organisations and initiate and implement pro-Israel campaigns. The organisation started with 1,500 members and now has a mailing list of more than 5,000, nearly half of whom are non-Jewish, mainly Christian.

Luke is full of praise for the work of the UJS which has created a whole generation of non-Jewish pro-Israel political activists, some of whom he is working alongside at BICOM.

Luke Akehurst was contacted for comment and was asked, concerning his Jewish Telegraph interview:

You describe going to pro-Israel meetings with primarily Christian audiences, which has obvious relevance at the moment given the claims about Corbyn’s comment about zionists. Based on that, would you agree that claims of racism, or that ‘zionists’ was code for ‘all Jews’, are misplaced?

He had not responded by the time of publication.

Author Michael Rosen described what he believes is the real nature of the furore:


Most or all of those who are attempting to claim that Corbyn’s comments were antisemitic are fully aware that many – quite probably a majority – of ‘zionists’ aren’t Jewish. For example, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) whose MPs are currently propping Theresa May’s minority government is staunchly zionist.

In fact, it’s likely that their current convenient assumption is what is antisemitic – since many Jewish people are not zionists and large communities are actively anti-Zionist, yet those now smearing Corbyn are treating all Jewish people as one unvarying whole in a way that would instantly be condemned as racist if they made it about another group.

One of those non-Zionist Jewish people responded on Twitter to MP Luciana Berger’s attempt to equate all Jews with zionism:

The SKWAWKBOX needs your support. This blog is provided free of charge but depends on the generosity of its readers to be viable. If you can afford to, please click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal. Thanks for your solidarity so this blog can keep bringing you information the Establishment would prefer you not to know about.

If you wish to reblog this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.


  1. I’ve always found it really odd that the people in the Labour most passionate about Israel are not Jewish such as Akehurst, Watson and Mann. In the case of Akehurst who used to work for the arms trade and says he is proud of Labours invasion of Iraq, it speaks volumes about the morality of some of the people involved with Labour Friends of Israel and We Believe in Israel.

    1. Luke Akehurst is also a fanatical supporter of nuclear weapons.

      And this is how much contempt he has for ordinary Labour members:

      “If you owned a beautiful historic house that until three years ago had been a happy home, and squatters moved in and trashed it, you wouldn’t walk away and build another, far smaller house, or kip in a tent in the local park. You would fight to get it back.”


      I certainly hope that any candidate for the NEC elections who is acceptable to Luke Akehurst is trounced.

      1. Luke is obviously talking about the Zionists in Palestine, well said Luke 🙁

      2. Ohh wow Tim, that last sentence terrible, u should delete Tim’s comment Skwawkbox

  2. When Jews and non Jews start to inquire about the way Israel was formed and the violence perpetrated upon the Palestinians to chase them off their own land, by a bunch of Europeans with no legitimate connection to Palestine, fewer and fewer will associate themselves with Zionism.

    This will be the result of the smears on Jeremy Corbyn focusing attention on Israel and the exact opposite of what the wreckers have been trying to achieve. Did someone mention Karma recently?

    1. It’s true. Just as attacks on JC have strengthened the left in Labour , attacks on anti-semitism have informed far more people about the ME than ever before. They are publicising the issues and promoting the plight of the Palestinians and advertising the boycott. Keep it up boys.

  3. In this instance the Tory press smears are laughingly inaccurate. It was clearly a group of unconditional supporters of Israel heckling a pro-Palestine meeting, ie “Zionists”, whether Jewish on non-Jewish. .

    I think it is most definitely the case that : “a majority – of ‘zionists’ aren’t Jewish”. Certainly by the crude definition of who is a “Zionist” for too many of the extreme “Israel has no right to exist at all as a Jewish majority state, in any territorial form whatsoever in the Middle East ” wing of the Left. Because this sobriquet includes anyone at all who supports a “Two nations negotiated solution” for the tragic Israel/Palestine conflict. This includes even those of us who totally opposed to the illegal Israeli settlement programme , and its many barbaric military incursions into Gaza, and condemn the recent “apartheid-like” new “Jewish Nation Law. And even those of us who support the BDS campaign for as long as Israel continues its illegal settlement programme and fails to negotiate in good faith with the Palestinians for an equitable two state solution.

    On this crude definition of “Zionist” , Jeremy Corbyn, the PLO, and quite probably most of the UK population are “Zionists” if questioned specifically on the issue. Because no matter how critical of particular Israeli actions probably most people are, they recognise that since 1948 a unique Hebrew-speaking Jewish national grouping has existed in the Middle East – and it is pure fantasy to expect that national grouping to abandon its current state form in favour of integration into a new Arab-majority state. Only naïve fantasists today can surely believe that the destruction of the Israeli state in the current political situation of widespread Middle East inter-communal pogroms, mass sectarian population transfers and , in the case of minorities like the Yazidi, genocide and enslavement, would result in anything but a new Jewish Holocaust.

    1. As a Jew on the Labour Left I deplore the attempts of the Board of Deputies to shoehorn me because of my ethnicity into having one specific set of opinions, including that of being at war with Jeremy Corbyn.

      There is no singular “Jewish community” – there is an establishmentarian Jewish community, there are other Jewish communities and there are many many Jews like me who do not feel themselves in any community at all (and are quite content with that).

      Readers may be aware of the Jewish saying: “two Jews, three opinions” and this is how it is on Israel. My own take on the issue has been compellingly expressed by John Penney above.

      As a Jew I am also aware of a further dimension of diversity which tends to fall under the radar in the uber-political hothouse of the Labour Party. . Namely, what importance a Jew accords to Israel compared to the domestic scene and what degree of animation the whole issue inspires in them. Believe it or not there is ‘on the ground’ once again a huge spectrum in this regard.

      It is very wrong to deny this glorious diversity of the Jewish people – something that should be celebrated not denied. Instead we are of late being constantly STEREOTYPED as an ethnicity by the establishment community leadership and their New Labour allies. We have a word for that, don’t we comrades?!

    2. JPenney, as with your previous posts there appears to be a veneer of reasoned argument, albeit it is strained and not that easy to follow. What really stands out for me is how like Monbiot and other liberal writers you are. I mean in your unwillingness to follow your own argument through. It feels like a case of :”some of my best friends are Palestinians, but … or Dylan’s “I’m liberal to a degree, I want everybody to be free but….”

      So you attempt to align yourself with outrage at “all the recent and many barbaric military incursions”, then you remind us that there is a unique Hebrew speaking Jewish national grouping – fair enough, (albeit aren’t there some relatively peaceful countries/states that incorporate “unique”cultural/linguistic communities?). Oh, but if there are, then they wouldn’t be “unique” would they?

      From this point onwards however, there is a singular lack of argument in your position: all you can offer is the assumption that Israel is currently the dominant group and somehow it would be “naive” to consider any solution that doesn’t maintain that hegemony. Why is it naive? Is it naive because might is right? So, an opinion takes precedent over argument. But, to be fair you do try and bolster you opinion with the tellingly emotive and polarising “the destruction of the the Israeli state..” Your use of the word “unique” is intriguing. As with your previous posts, you seem to be straining not to come right out and say that we have to make an “exception” for the Zionist state of Israel.

    3. ‘jpenney’ “and it is pure fantasy to expect that national grouping to abandon its current state form in favour of integration into a new Arab-majority state.”

      WRONG, the same was said about South Africa reverting to an African majority State. I do realise though that the Zionists in control of Israel are far more ruthless than the Afrikaners, nevertheless States can and do fall. Israel is crumbling from the inside. According to official figures, twice as many Jews are leaving than arriving why? This is in Haaretz the Israeli news paper:

      “Not many people want to continue living in a place where radical nationalism is rising, many more people wearing kippah and tzitzit, where the whole mini-state is getting surrounded by a 10 meter high concrete wall, where the government keeps controlling the lives of 3.5 million Palestinians, and trying to control the place of muslim prayers, Temple Mount, which is 1300 years old.And this is just a tip of the iceberg.”

    4. John P ‘Born Again’ Labour member and ex philosopher king of Left Unity.
      But he has a point perhaps apartheid South Africa should have never have been ended and we should have respected the God Given Rights of the Christian Boers?
      What JP I think is saying (I think he gets more bitter the more whiskey he has whilst I am on the pale ale) is junk the Right of Return of Regugee Palestinians and “What we have we hold.”
      The best hope an analysis I have heard in recent years was from Naura Eraket, Palestinian Human Rights Lawyer, in a recent CBS interview (see You Tube) who argued that “Hamas were a scarecrow and the Palestinians don’t want them” plus the Israel (Right Wing Govt) won’t talk “because it wants to maintain its ethnic, religious, and economic supremecy” adding with the Right of Return they could build “a society that valued all citizens as human beings respecting their religious beliefs and thier right to have none.”
      I don’t lecture people from thousands of miles away and let those directly involved speak for themselves; it is up to those in the region to work out a solution for themselves.
      Oh and just drawing from reading, in a protest in the US Hassidic Jewish citizens were carrying placards which read “Zionism Sucks” and there are more Jewish people living outside of Israel (mainly in Western Europe and the US) and long may they do so and as an HOMOGENOUS community (like all communities) and long may they do so to be happy following their dreams!
      My concern now is Far Right US Barbarian Billionaires are to pour millions into Far Right Groups (and individual Barbarians) in Europe and the World (including here) and whilst we need to question of this is declared and legal Labour and Trade Unions plus diverse communities need
      to unite and confront the Barbarians

      1. The more I think about it we shouldn’t dehumanise a potential Palestinian majority in the region.
        White western human beings (mainly male) shouldn’t think they are somehow intellectually know better.
        Perhaps when we treat diverse citizens of the World as intellectual equals then TOGETHER that is the day we will transform the World!
        Diverse Working People of the World Unite!

      2. What concrete point are you making, amongst the abusive and rambling feel-good verbiage, Bazza ? Hard to decipher. You (and your posturring”Israel must be destroyed” co-thinkers, posting obsessively here) appear to reject the “two nations” solution position of the Labour Party outright , and that of Jeremy Corbyn, UN, PLO, and almost every state in the world except Iran ? So how does this abolition of the current Israeli state form happen ? I think you should have the honesty to put your chosen solution on the table – rather than your usual vacuous feel-good Dave Spartist rhetoric. Unfortunately the handful of “Israel must be destroyed” obsessives on this and other discussion blogs represent only a few thousand extremists, at most, not the Labour Party, or even the broader Left position on the Israel/Palestine, tragedy. This gives an utterly distorted impression to UK Jews and the wider world as to what the Left position is.

        The end of the contemporary Israeli Jewish state form would not occur peacefully that’s for sure. A negotiated “Two State” redrawing of boundaries being the only realistic (if very hard to achieve with a Trump led USA) option. The comparison between the actually very historically different situation of the South African Whites (not just the Boer sub-minority – the entire White community benefitted directly from Apartheid) and the Israeli Jews (and their enthusiastic Druze community allies in particular) is entirely bogus in today’s ever-deepening Middle East febrile sectarian bloodbath . It might have had some credibility before the collapse of the non-religiously sectarian PLO as the undisputed Palestinian Leadership. But today the huge presence of the likes of clerico-fascist , Hezbollah, Hamas, and Daesh , and Iranian forces on Israel’s borders , all deeply implicated in massive crimes against both fellow Muslims, as well as non-Muslim minorities like the Yazidi (and in Egypt, the Copts) explains why the only way the current state of Israel will be ended is by military defeat. So while there might have been some counter argument in previous eras to the Israeli mantra of “the defeat of Israel means a new Holocaust”. Today ? Nope, not for Israeli Jews and their Druze allies. We also know that when Israel faced possible military defeat in the 1984 Yom Kippur surprise attack, Israeli jets were in the air , nuclear-armed, ready to obliterate Cairo and Damascus. A negotiated settlement , after a successful global anti-South African apartheid-style BDS campaign, is the only route to a possible solution.

        And , just a minor point, unlike you, quite clearly from your writing style, Bazza, I am actually teetotal.

    5. Would a declaration that the state of Israel was not a Jewish state and that it welcomed all Palestinians back to their lands, be described as the ‘destruction’ of Israel? Is that what you mean by destruction? Or do you mean physically bombed or something. Because I believe that Israel will not be a sustainable entity in the future. Once the US no longer has the capacity to fund and arm it, it won’t be sustainable. Then there will be a slow realising truth for Israelis that they should make friends in the region, play a reasonable game, drop the hegemony or be responsible for a nuclear holocaust in which they will cause untold harm but be ultimately destroyed themselves. For me – this IS the end game, and there will be no let up for another 200 years until this position is realised. I would prefer they came to their senses and became a united, non Jewish country with equal rights for Jews and Arabs.

      1. @pimatters
        “Once the US no longer has the capacity to fund and arm it, it won’t be sustainable.”

        I agree and there is a very interesting lecture given by Gideon Levy on YTube that states exactly that .It’s a longish clip but well worth watching IMHO.

      2. Yes it would. Given that “welcoming all Palestinians back to their lands” by its very nature means clearing millions of Israeli Jews OFF these land occupied since 1948 , how is that to be achieved without the utter destruction of the Israeli state, “pimatters” ? Try to think this issue through logically beyond the rhetoric. Hence the need for a mutually agreed Palestinian/Israeli “Two States” NEGOTIATED land settlement. And that will inevitably not mean the “right of return of ALL Palestinians to their pre 1948 homes”. Never mind that the current Palestinian population is hugely larger than in 1948. That’s why its a negotiation,” pimatters”, not a sloganized posture .

        Sorry to pour the cold water of real politics on the posturing of the “one completely new democratic state of everyone in the pre 1948 territory of Palestine” fantasists, but it is no more possible for the children of the 10 million ethnic Germans forcibly expelled from the , now Polish, historically German region of East Prussia and from the Sudetanland region of what was Czechoslovakia in 1945, to “go home” in some universal “right of return” , than for the clock to be put back to 1948 in what was once Palestine . History moves on. That is why a “negotiated solution ” is needed. Only a relative handful of “Israel must be destroyed” advocates , and openly anti-Semitic clerico-fascists like Hamas , Hezbollah, Daesh, and the Iranian theocracy , think differently.

      3. Okay JP, I think I’ve got it, For pragmatic reasons, history must move on, for every historic group except the Zionists that is – because their history is “unique”.

        I think change, in this case, has to be based on an egalitarian vision, not on a pragmatism that enslaves us to history, even if (of course) the outcome is less than perfect and involves compromise,

        or as a Palestinian voice puts it:

        ” …we don’t need to allow our vision of justice to be constrained by only what seems realistic by the perspective of today and especially not by what powerful and privileged groups deem acceptable or pragmatic …”

        Ali Abunimah (2014)

        You refer to a one state solution as a “fantasy” because you have a predetermined idea about what that would have to be. For me, as each day passes, the two state solution that you appear to advocate looks just as unlikely and unrealistic, partly for the very attitudinal reasons that you cite and partly because of yes, the practicalities.

        So, let’s keep an open mind about one state/two state solutions and let’s keep an open mind about the course of history too.

        By the way, can I respectfully ask you not to keep putting words in people’s mouths? You are the only one, in the comments above, who (repeatedly) refers to any point of view that might differ from your own, as ” … the destruction of the State of Israel”.

    6. What JP seems to be saying is ‘Sorry Palestinians I can’t recommend your freedom because I do not trust you to use power wisely?’
      Palestinian Human Rights Lawyer, Naura Erakat (CBS interview, You Tube, 2018) supports the Right of Palestinians to return and when asked what was her solution replied:
      “Give the Palestinians their freedom.”
      I as a White Westerner from thousands of miles away offer no solution but think after the above the diverse citizens in that region could then explore if they could live together or if they felt that they couldn’t then explore living as two neighbouring states.
      All I do want is peace and an end to the misery in this region.

  4. Michael Rosen has also reminded us that Christian Zionists link a bibical prophesy that the second coming will happen after the return of the Jewish peoples to Israel. This belief is particularly prominent amongst the US fundamentalists who tend to support Trump … and whether Bannon believes it or not, it certainly has been a useful tool to weaponise.

  5. The non jewish zionists, namely the christians zionists have a huge responsabitity when it come to Israel history, Ilan Pape or Chomsky, among many othes, explained that well, thanks Skwawkbox for once again putting the light where it really matter

  6. Luciana Berger is unwelcome in her own party. Not because she is Jewish, but because I have never once heard her issue so much as a squeak of criticism about the Tories and their policies, but day after day she uses her media platform to attack and damage Labour.

  7. I’ve seen Jews lumping all Corbyn supporters together and calling them insulting names, if reciprocated, those same people would be screaming anti semitism from the rooftops! Is it anti semitic to say that a small number of Jews are attempting to take-over and inflict their wishes on the entire Labour movement? It seems that free speech is no longer free and people are terrified of challenging some Jews for fear of being labelled antisemitic – thank goodness for Jews like Michael Rosen and Norman Finkelstein the voices of reason and I’ve even seen them called “the wrong kind of Jews” and referred to as “useful Jews” or just ignored.

  8. The twitter feed on this was disgusting. One comment expressed hope the the “Cult of Corbyn” would end in a Jim Jones “The Peoples Temple Agricultural Project” death cult scenario – that is we’d all commit suicide. Many other responses were disgusting and Benn’s grand daughter was at it again (what is her problem).

    What I find so disappointing with this whole thing is the lack of self depreciation, humor and humility displayed by those attacking Corbyn, Labour and us the members.

    It also appears that sections of the Jewish community and those supporting them can’t take any feedback unless it is unconditional support of them and Israel. Any criticism is automatically anti Semitic.

    I visited Dachau 45 years ago and the memory has stayed with me, etched into my brain, since then. It was a truly life changing experience for me. I am a critic of the Israeli State because their treatment of the Palestinians, their Fascistic Foreign Policy and their arrogance.

    I am also very disturbed by a Foreign Nation, Israel, so openly meddling in our politics and way of life.

    I am not an anti Semite. I am not a Racist. I believe in justice for the Palestinians.

  9. Is this not a Racist slurr upon the good people of Dundee? :

    “I went to Stirling with someone from the Israeli embassy and spoke there to 100 Christian supporters. I went to Dundee, which is the last place you would expect 40 pro-Israel people.”

  10. More indications that Corbyn was on a watch list well before he became leader, and who could it be that put him there?
    If you has 15 minutes I have a very short piece that makes some links between MuralGate and CemeteryGate (including a common person who slipped the net in my early versions). And do please share or criticise – as with any of the work accessible from my pinned tweet @ChrisFriel7.
    The reason I am publicising it is because I think there is scope for further journalistic inquiry, especially with regards to the Henry Jackson Society / Euston Group who appear to be those behind a concerted smear campaign. I lack the requisite experience, contacts, and skills and so I would welcome anyone who can take up some of my leads.
    My last piece is on this site:

    1. Excellent article CHris , your forensic examinaion of the sequencing of events , the timing of the release of information by certain parties with their own agenda , is eye popping opening ! I would urge all to read it , it ironically exemplifies exactly what Corbyn was talking about at the Alt McTaggert Lecture of what good investigative journalism should be .Just a reminder and balancer that Corbyn has and continues to do good things for Labour

  11. Judaeo Christian fundamentalists are a really dangerous import from America. A political philosophy based the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation made to fit 21st Century middle eastern foreign policy would be funny if it weren’t so mental.

  12. The smearing of Corbyn gets more ridiculous by the day.
    After being accused of supporting terrorism by laying a wreath in the wrong country, Corbyn is now anti-Semitic for criticising some members of a group which includes both Jews and non-Jews.
    If it wasn’t so undemocratic the smear campaign, which is clearly coordinated, would be funny. And the feigned blustering outrage of Streeting, Berger, Gapes and the rest of them would be even funnier.

  13. I find it astounding that someone like Ruth Smeeth can not only be a British MP, but is also a member of the Defence Select Committee.
    That this is possible after she was exposed by the WikiLeaks Cables as a “strictly protect” US informant beggars belief and proves, if proof were needed. that our foreign policy and indeed our politics , isn’t our own.

  14. Religions bear the enormous responsibility of allowing the privileged few to sow sectarian division between natural allies – the underprivileged of the world.

    What makes it unbearably worse is the absolutely cast-iron fact that there is provably no possibility of the existence of a sentient creator.

    It’s shocking that 159 years after On the Origin of Species there are still believers of creation myths and that religion still prevents humanity from living side by side in harmony – when we now have the technical ability to create peace and plenty for all.

    ‘Luke the Nuke’s very last stand.
    The Neo-Liberal Boot licker.
    Who threw is rattle from the pram.
    With a whimp, a bump, and a flicker.
    The greatest mind in the Western World.
    Yet to be discovered.
    Then he packed his bags, with his glad rags.
    And we wondered why he bothered.
    Now go and read some Left Wing books!’

    1. Golda Meir said she would be prepared to see the whole world engulfed in nuclear war if Israel was ever to be defeated.

  16. Is anyone else noticing fucks given reducing in inverse proportion to increase in AS smears?

  17. Akehurst believes in Israel.

    I believe in Gaza.

    This moving video with vocal by Roger Waters, was made for the tenth anniversary by a mum and daughter who were in the first boat to break the blockade.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: