Even Labour’s right wing MPs were pushed to condemn Israel’s attack on the funeral of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.
Having defended Israel as a normal, democratic state, they’re confronted with the embarrassing fact that its forces murdered a journalist then attacked her funeral. On Monday, Starmer’s most loyal supporters stood up in parliament to “unequivocally condemn the violence by Israeli forces” at Shireen’s funeral.
But they won’t blame Israel for killing Shireen. Using the same neutral language of most media reports, they speak only of her death without saying who fired the shot, and call for an “independent” investigation.
In this, they don’t go much further than the Tories—or even the US, where president Joe Biden is “deeply troubled” by the scenes at the funeral. Having developed Israel to act as its watchdog in the Middle East, the US is sometimes embarrassed when it bites.
The West doesn’t care when Israeli forces kill Palestinian teenagers throwing rocks. But a journalist with a US passport is a step too far. So they tug on Israel’s leash, but they won’t put on the muzzle. Starmer’s Labour is desperate to prove how compatible it is with Biden’s US.
That’s why its star shadow minister Wes Streeting—while in Jerusalem—can find the funeral attack “distressing” then resume tweeting about his meetings with Israeli government officials. And it’s why Labour is even more embarrassed by its members that brand Israel an apartheid state.
Israel was born out of colonial and racist violence
It's not intimidation