At such a critical point in the Labour Party’s development – including the rebuilding of trust with the UK’s Jewish community and our return to a mainstream, balanced foreign policy – it was an absolute honour to be able to play a part in reconnecting with our friends in Israel as part of the recent Young Labour activist delegation to the region.
Naturally, after such an enriching five days as part of our tour to Israel and the Palestinian Territories, it is difficult to choose just one highlight. Our meetings with Israeli Labor and Young Labor, however, stand out as being particularly eye-opening and heartening. Despite language barriers, being able to connect and learn about one another through our shared histories, values and goals was invaluable; they will always be our partners in the international struggle for equality, peace and freedom.
In our conversations, they stressed that they remain absolutely committed to promoting and achieving peace in the region, and I look forward to having further discussions with them about how we as a party can build on our historic relationship and help them achieve this.
The need for a two-state solution has always been part of my political consciousness. But, from such a distance, and amid the past decade’s political tumultuousness, its lasting importance can become clouded by noise and events for activists here in the UK. Above all, last month’s delegation reaffirmed the importance of a two-state solution as the only lasting peace to the long and tragic conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
The Palestinian right to self-determination through a sovereign, democratic state must be not only respected but realised, as was repeated to us by many of the people we met on our tour, regardless of their political affiliation or background. Likewise, Israel’s right to exist as a secure, democratic and Jewish state will not be realised until a two-state solution becomes a reality.
Labour activists must begin from this starting point when seeking to discuss the long running conflict and our country’s role in helping to resolve it. This trip left me acutely aware of how poorly the conflict is understood not just in the UK but especially within our party, which is something I’m determined to change on my return.
Antisemitism was and continues to be a hideous stain on our party. If delegations for activists and party members such as this are able to change the outlook or opinion of just one person, I will continue to encourage anyone who is given the opportunity to take it. Delegations also form a crucial function for demonstrating our support and solidarity for progressive partners in Israel and Palestine, allowing activists to visit, listen to and understand their work and how we can support them.
I couldn’t recommend this delegation enough. LFI, We Believe in Israel and BICOM provided invaluable insight for us young activists and facilitated discussions that will stay with me and inform how I conduct politics for the rest of my career.