Palestinian politicians in the Israeli parliament—Knesset—have spoken out in defence of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and the right to call Israel a racist state.
The four MPs from the Joint List coalition of Arab parties in Israel accuse his critics of ignoring “the Palestinian historical plight.”
The statement, signed by MPs Ahmad Tibi, Masud Ganaim, Yousef Jabareen and Jamal Zahalka, says, “We commend Jeremy Corbyn for his decades of service to the British people, and for his longstanding solidarity with all oppressed peoples around the world, including his unflinching support for the Palestinian people.
“We stand in solidarity with Jeremy Corbyn and we recognise him as a principled leftist leader who aspires for peace and justice and is opposed to all forms of racism, whether directed at Jews, Palestinians, or any other group.”
The letter comes after weeks of attacks on Jeremy Corbyn. Supporters of Israel want it to be seen as antisemitic to call Israel a racist state, or to point out that Israel was founded through ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.
As the MPs point out, this would make it impossible for Palestinians to talk about their history, or explain the cause of their oppression.
“We feel that we must speak out now and register our repugnance at these recent attempts to complete our erasure, by forbidding within the UK Labour Party any mention by name of the forces allayed against the Palestinian cause,” the statement says.
“As long as efforts to curb anti-Jewish sentiment in the UK are focused on combating the disparagement of Jews merely for their membership in a minority group, they have our full support.
“But when some try to force the Labour Party into using as its litmus test a definition of antisemitism that goes far beyond anti-Jewish animus to include anti-Zionism, we must raise our voices and decry these efforts.”
The MPs represent Palestinians who live inside Israel. These are Arabs who managed to survive being displaced or forced to flee when Israel was created in 1948.
A “nation-state law” passed in July embedded discrimination into Israel’s constitution, confirming that only Jewish people have the right to self-determination there.
“Palestinian citizens of Israel have yet to experience a single day of equality, to say nothing of the millions of Palestinians under military occupation in the West Bank, under siege in the Gaza Strip, and the 6 million in exile abroad, prevented from returning to their homeland simply because they are not Jews,” the MPs said.
“We Palestinian parliamentarians have always argued that it is not possible for any ethno-state, Jewish or otherwise, to also be a state that guarantees equality to all its citizens.”