LFI chair Steve McCabe MP addresses LFI’s 2023 Annual Lunch

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Chief Rabbi, Ambassador Hotovely, friends.   


It is my pleasure to welcome you to the Labour Friends of Israel Annual Lunch.   


And a warm welcome to our friends from the Abraham Accords countries.  


LFI’s work is more vital than ever, and the generosity of so many people in this room makes that work possible.     


A special word of thanks must go to Sir David Garrard and Isaac Kaye.    


I would also like to thank all LFI’s officers and parliamentary supporters  


And finally, can I thank our special guest – the shadow foreign secretary, David Lammy, whose principled and measured approach in recent weeks show what a great Foreign Secretary he will be.  


LFI was founded a little under 10 years after the establishment of the State of Israel. 


But we’ve never gathered under so dark a cloud as we do today. 


The State of Israel was established to provide the Jewish people with a safe haven after centuries of persecution.  


But when Jews are butchered in the streets,  


Babies mutilated, women raped, and children torn from their mother’s arms,  


Elderly hostages paraded through the streets, jeered at and humiliated,  


we know Israel is not yet the safe haven that the Jewish people have a right to expect. 


The pogrom of 7 October is evidence, yet again, that the world has failed the Jewish people.  


That is why we stand with Israel as it seeks to eliminate Hamas’ instruments of terror: its military and political infrastructure. 


The conflict between Israel and Hamas stretches back more than three decades.  


It is time to bring it to a close: 


To free Gaza from Hamas. 


To free the Israeli people from terror. 


To remove the principal obstacle to a future peace …  


Hamas has robbed one generation of Israelis and Palestinians of the prospect of peace. 

We cannot allow them to deprive another.   


But we must do more than offer Israel our sympathies.  


There is a challenge at home and we must confront it: 


Since 7 October, we’ve seen like never before the danger posed by anti-Zionist antisemitism … 


Jewish schoolkids told not to wear their uniform, posters featuring the faces of kidnapped Jewish children torn down by people who seem to have lost not simply their sense of decency but their very notion of humanity. 


Security around Jewish places of worship further increased as demonstrators on our streets call for jihad, chant extremist slogans, and extol Hamas’ crimes. 


And seats of learning unable or unwilling to condemn murderous terrorism as Holocaust museums are targeted. 


It’s the same right across Europe and the United States. 




The long years of demonisation and delegitimisation to which Israel has been subjected … 


The fanatical resolutions passed by Stalinist activists. 


The torrent of condemnations issued by international institutions. 


The poison spewed by the mullahs in Tehran. 


Together, they have led us to where we are today: 


Israel – uniquely among nations – forced to respond to a terrorist attack by arranging screenings of the horrors it endured to prove they actually happened.  


Anti-Zionist antisemitism is alive and well. 


Thanks to Keir Starmer, it’s been driven from the Labour party. 


But now we have a new battle on our hands.  


No Jewish child, Jewish student or Jewish parent should feel unsafe in 21st century Britain. 



LFI will work with the next Labour government … 


and stand with the Jewish community … 


until the scourge of antisemitism is removed from our streets.   


As we saw on Sunday, the fightback has thankfully now begun. 


The atrocities committed by the terrorists on 7 October must never be allowed to happen again.  


Mere months ago, I visited Kibbutz Kfar Aza on an LFI delegation … 


The peace and beauty we experienced that day  has been cruelly shattered. 


The communities – modelled on values so close to our hearts – brutally torn apart. 


Our young guide’s mother and father both murdered.  


It wasn’t a battlefield.  


It was a slaughterhouse. 


We will do all we can to support these communities as they seek to rebuild and plan to return..   


In the meantime, we must redouble our efforts at home.  


We led the long campaign in Parliament to persuade the government to fully proscribe Hezbollah and Hamas.  


We will keep up the pressure for the government to tackle the threat posed by Iran both here at home and in the region … 


Let’s ban the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps without further ado. 


Expel Khamenei’s personal representative in the UK. 


And shut down Iran’s ideological centres in Britain 


Especially in these dark days, LFI will continue to campaign for a brighter future for Israelis and Palestinians alike.  


As we have consistently argued … 


We must urgently address the humanitarian crisis and devise a post-war Marshall Plan for Gaza.  


We must empower and reform the Palestinian Authority so it can help realise the Palestinian people’s legitimate right to self-determination. 


And we must marginalise the enemies of peace … 


President Abbas must stamp out antisemitic incitement and end the disgraceful payment of salaries to terrorists; 


The Israeli government must freeze settlement construction, especially that which threatens Palestinian contiguity, and confront extremists. 


At the same time, we must harness massive international investment to promote a culture of peace: 


As Amos Oz so aptly put it: “A conflict begins and ends in the hearts and minds of people, not in the hilltops.” 


So, there’s never been a better time to establish an International Fund for Israeli-Palestinian Peace; 


There’s never been a more important time to support the Arab-Israeli normalisation process. 


And there’s never been a more vital time to capture the confidence and optimism which rests at the heart of the progressive spirit. 



Now is the time to remember the great insight of those Labor lions – Peres and Rabin … 


Israel’s security is the foundation of peace. 


And peace is the only real guarantee of Israel’s security.  


Since 7 October, there has been only one place to be: by Israel’s side.  


We always have been. 


 We always will be.  


Let’s bring ALL the hostages home. 


Free the Israeli and Palestinian people from Hamas. 


And build a brighter future. 


Am Yisrael Chai.