Top U.K. Union Leader Slams Israeli Labor Party Head for Corbyn 'Smear Campaign'

Len McCluskey accuses Avi Gabbay of a 'cynical and outrageous smear' campaign against the head of the U.K. Labour Party

Israeli Labor Party leader Avi Gabbay
Gil Eliahu

The head of Britain's largest trade union, Len McCluskey, lashed out this week against the chairman of the Israeli Labor Party, Avi Gabbay, for allegedly conducting a "cynical and outrageous smear" campaign against the head of the British Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn.

Earlier this month, Gabbay announced that the Israeli Labor Party would be suspending its ties with Corbyn "for enabling anti-Semitism."

The secretary general of Britain's Unite labor union, Len McCluskey
Bloomberg

In an article in this week's British weekly New Statesman, McCluskey, who is general secretary of the Unite trade union, retorted: "If no one else will say it, I will: Gabbay is guilty of a cynical and outrageous smear. The idea that Corbyn has ever shown hostility towards the Jewish community, or allowed anti-Semitic actions, is a disgusting libel of which Gabbay should be ashamed. In my view, withdrawing those remarks is essential for any resumption of normal relations with the Israeli Labor Party."

McCluskey added: "People holding anti-Semitic views have no place in the party, and they should be dealt with under rule as rapidly as possible. With Labour Party headquarters now under new management, I believe that this will at long last be done – that the backlog of complaints will be speedily addressed ."

McCluskey reserved major criticism in his article for lower-ranking Labour Party members of the British parliament whom he accused of using allegations of anti-Semitism to undermine Corbyn.

Corbyn and the British Labour Party have been embroiled in longtime allegations of anti-Semitism within the party. On Tuesday of this week, Jewish community leaders in Britain said met with Corbyn on anti-Semitism in the party and announced following the meeting that it had been a “disappointing missed opportunity.”

Corbyn met with the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council after they organized a protest last month accusing him of failing to tackle anti-Semitism in his party because of a far-left world view hostile to Jews. “When members of Jewish communities express genuine anxieties, we must recognize them as we would those of any other community,” Corbyn said. “Their concerns are not ‘smears.' Jews belong in the Labour Party and we are utterly committed to making it a safe and welcoming place for them.”

In his letter to Corbyn, Israeli Labor Party chairman Gabbay wrote: "It is my responsibility to acknowledge the hostility you have shown to the Jewish community and the anti-Semitic statements and actions you have allowed as leader of the Labour party U.K.," and added: "You are not fulfilling your role in curbing anti-Semitism around you, and your public statements carry a load of hatred toward Israel .... We will not be able to agree to maintain contact with you, the leader of the Labour Party, when you do not play your part in curbing anti-Semitic phenomena.”

Gabbay accused Corbyn of crossing "a dangerous line" between legitimate criticism of Israeli policy and anti-Semitism, but noted that the Israeli Labor Party would continue to work with Corbyn's party even if not with Corbyn himself.