4 OCTOBER 1997, Page 32

Labour Zionists? Where?

Sir: In the Old Testament triumphalism of his 'Israel goes orthodox' (13 September), Sion Simon says, 'We are the masters now. Zionism is the New Labour shibboleth.'

But, like the Old Testament, the writer provides little evidence for this startling claim. I scarcely recognised around the packed Labour benches this new army for Netanyahu imagined by Simon.

I am the senior vice chairman of the Par- liamentary Labour Party Foreign Affairs Committee, elected by my colleagues. The chairman is Ernie Ross, MP for Dundee, where — according to Simon — `Arabists' are 'bizarrely prevalent'. Not much sign of Zionism there, then. Or take the Secretary of State. I have known Robin Cook well for more than 20 years. In all that time Ross and I could always count on him as a friend of justice for the Palestinians. So far no good for Mr Simon.

In the rogues' gallery of the Palestinian side I am bracketed with 'the Scottish Left, the Welsh Right, John Prescott'.

So that puts the Deputy Prime Minister on our side too. Mr Simon misses the unions, the great majority of whom have pro-Palestinian positions: Ross and I as chairman and general secretary respectively of Trades Union Friends of Palestine won many conference battles against Mr Simon's friends.

And then there's the Labour party policy itself, recognising the PLO as 'the sole legitimate representative' and calling for an 'independent Palestinian state'. This policy was won as long ago as 1982 — I know because I was one of those `wot won it'.

And then there are events such as the 24-year-old settlers arriving from Brooklyn, bankrolled by a New York bingo palace impresario, seizing Arab houses in East Jerusalem and practically ending the Oslo process — as, to be fair, Netanyahu always promised to do.

Mr Simon has to face the fact that Israel has entered a period where its actions and policies cannot be supported by any civilised person Left or Right, let alone in the ranks of Labour. Don't take my word for it, ask Leah Rabin.

George Galloway

House of Commons, London SW1