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Labour and antisemitism: A small step forward

    It has not been a great year for the Labour Party's relationship with British Jews, to put it mildly.

    But if Tuesday's Labour Friends of Israel lunch was anything to go by, a smidgen of positivity may be visible as we enter the final month of 2016.

    To see the party's deputy leader heartily singing Am Yisrael Chai was astonishing. Tom Watson's effort had guests grasping for their smartphones to record the moment as their jaws dropped.

    His singing and his moving speech thoroughly deserved the warm and sustained applause they received.

    The atmosphere in the hall was never going to be euphoric but it was warm and friendly, and the appearance of so many high-profile MPs gave grassroots supporters, activists and others a much-needed boost.

    Even John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor whose website still carries his 2014 letter to the then Home Secretary Theresa May calling for British volunteers in the IDF to potentially face war crimes charges and be stripped of their UK citizenship, put in an appearance, slipping in half-way through the main course.

    Taken with Jeremy Corbyn's speech at LFI's reception at the Labour conference in September, the lunch provided a fillip after months of misery.

    But as the guests filed away there was still plenty of chuntering from councillors and MPs about the future.

    Do not be mistaken: it will take a long time for the harm done by the party's antisemitism crisis to be repaired, and for British Jews to trust Labour once again.

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