Dame Louise Ellman is to become the new chair of Labour Friends of Israel, replacing Joan Ryan, who will assume the role of honorary president – a position once held by Harold Wilson, a similarly staunch supporter of Israel and ally of the Jewish community in Britain.
Ms Ryan has deservedly built an international reputation thanks to her relentless campaigning against antisemitism on the far right and the far left and she will continue to lead LFI’s work in this area. In recent months, for instance, she has addressed AIPAC’s annual conference in Washington DC; the American Jewish Committee’s Global Forum; German parliamentarians at the NAFFO think tank in Berlin; as well as a number of international delegations visiting London.
Ms Ryan has built tremendous bonds of trust with the Jewish community, and she will also play a key role in LFI’s ongoing work with it.
Ms Ellman will now lead LFI’s work with the Parliamentary Labour party. She has been a highly active member of LFI throughout her time in parliament and has served as a vice-chair for a number of years.
Ms Ellman has a long-standing record of fighting antisemitism and making the case for Israel in the PLP. She has been at the forefront of LFI’s campaigning work on a range of issues, including our effort to secure the banning of Hezbollah in its entirety. This campaign met with success when the government announced the proscription of the terror group’s political wing in February.
We are confident that Ms Ellman and Ms Ryan – together with our chair in the House of Lords, Baroness Meta Ramsay – will further enhance LFI’s work in parliament and help build our growing international work fighting anti-Zionist antisemitism. They will be supported by our team of vice-chairs: Sharon Hodgson, Pat McFadden, Rachel Reeves, Jonny Reynolds and John Spellar.
Joan Ryan, honorary president of LFI, said: “I pledged to the Jewish community at last year’s LFI annual lunch that I would stand by it at all times in the battle against antisemitism. I believe my actions this year have honoured that pledge. Working with Louise, I will continue the battle as LFI’s new honorary president.”
Dame Louise Ellman, chair of LFI, said: “Joan has been a tremendous and inspiring chair of LFI over the past four years. I look forward to working with her, and the rest of the LFI team in parliament, to stand up for Israel, fight anti-Zionism in all its ugly forms, and support a two-state solution, peace and coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians.”
Jennifer Gerber, director of LFI, said: “Joan Ryan and Dame Louise Ellman have shown enormous courage, determination and strength in campaigning against antisemitism in the Labour party, and the hard left’s effort to demonise and delegitimise the state of Israel, over the past four years. LFI is enormously proud of them both, and delighted that they have agreed to work with us to make the case for Israel and a two-state solution, and fight the scourge of anti-Zionist antisemitism.”