Jewish Leaders: DUP Pact ‘Positive News’ for Community, Anti-Semitism Persists in Labour Party

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Arlene Foster (R), and DUP Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds address the media outside the Parliament Buildings at Stormont in Belfast on March 6, 2017.
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The prospect of a pact between the Tory Government and Ulster’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has been welcomed as “positive news” for Jewish people and Israel by community leaders.

Jonathan Arkush, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said that DUP leader Arlene Foster and deputy leader Nigel Dodds were “exceptionally warm and friendly” when he met with them in Belfast during an interview with The Jerusalem Post.

The DUP are a Protestant, working-class party which supports Brexit, conservative social policies, and maintaining Ulster’s place within the United Kingdom – a position endorsed by the great majority of residents the last time they were given a choice between the UK and the Republic of Ireland in a referendum.

Their opposition to same-sex marriage and allowing abortion for non-medical reasons up to six months into pregnancy, as is possible on the British mainland, has seen left wing commentators such as Owen Jones of The Guardian brand the party “anti-women, gay-hating extremists”.

Arkush, however, believes it is the Labour Party which has problems with latent bigotry, singling out Jeremy Corbyn in particular as “not a Labour Party leader who is trusted by the Jewish community”, citing election data which indicates decreased support for Labour candidates in areas with a significant Jewish population.

“Jews did not feel able to support Labour,” he explained, saying Corbyn had given British Jews “no reason to think that there will be any change in his reluctance to deal with anti-Semitism in his party and I feel that the smell of antisemitism is still persisting in too many corners of the party”.

Whilst many leading Labour figures and prominent supporters have condemned attempts to give the Democratic Unionists a role in setting out a programme for government as unacceptable and a threat to the peace process in the Province, the party has since been exposed as having sought deals with the DUP on multiple occasions itself, triggering accusations the present outrage is highly selective.

Former Europe Minister Caroline Flint revealed that Gordon Brown sought a deal with the DUP in 2010, and DUP MP Ian Paisley Jr has chastised Corbyn’s predecessor Ed Miliband, who has been critical of the emerging pact with the Conservatives, for having sought one himself in 2015.

Follow Jack Montgomery on Twitter: @JackBMontgomery

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