Interview: Controversial former Labour member Jackie Walker on Trump, Israel and social media

President Trump’s decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem in late 2017 was arguably one of the most controversial political decisions of the century.

The decision provoked controversy and outrage worldwide with many people, once again questioning the President’s mental health.

In an era where tensions are only increasing in the region it is hard to imagine how a two-state solution will ever be reached despite the hundreds of people who protest for peace.

Jackie Walker, a former Labour party member and controversial figure is doing just that.

The left-wing activist was the vice-chair for Momentum; a Labour party movement set up in 2015 by Jon Lansman and described as a grassroots party supportive of Corbyn.

In 2016 Jackie was suspended from Labour, accused of anti-Semitism.

Jackie, who is visiting Manchester to perform her play The Lynching which touches upon her suspension from the Labour party, spoke to MM about Trump’s pivotal decision amongst other issues surrounding the ongoing Israel-Palestine question.

Despite the widespread outrage about the decision Jackie thinks that the move by Trump might not all be negative. She hopes it will bring to light that Israel doesn’t plan on having a two-state solution.

“Netanyahu is not and never has been interested in a two-state solution. They are building settlements at a higher rate than ever before. Anyone who thinks that the Israeli government is going to go into these settlements and take the settlers out from the homes they’ve established is mad.”

Israel began its occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967 during the Six Day War and in 2017 Israel approved plans for 176 new Jewish homes in occupied East Jerusalem.

The activist isn’t shy in her opinion that a large part of the problem within the conflict is the relationship Israel shares with America.

“As far as I’m concerned the Israelis are a proxy state for the Americans.”

Most of the relationship, she says, is built on money and trade.

“Israel never used to be supported by the Americans; America decided to support Israel for very particular strategic reasons.”

“It’s astonishing the billions of dollars Israel gets in subsidies. You have easily a third of America’s population living in poverty with very little access to medical care but billions of money going over to Israel which has better standards of welfare than in America, this is not happening because America is philanthropic, it’s because of America’s interests in the Middle East.”

In 2016 the US signed a deal with the Israeli military to give them a $38billion military aid package over the next decade.

“Forces of capital, of trade, of power, they are formidable,” she says.

Jackie is not the only person in the Labour party to be accused of being anti-Semitic, with other members of the party, including Jeremy Corbyn, having been previously accused.

The activist says that people in UK politics are scared of criticising Israel for fear of having their reputation tainted.

“I’m getting information about prospective candidates who are taken down because they are being smeared.”

Jackie praises Corbyn’s efforts as a pro-Palestine activist but admits he is criticised heavily for it.

She said: “For the first time you have somebody elected as the leader of a national party who is being supportive of Palestine and what then happens is the greatest witch hunt of pro-Palestinian activists that we have ever seen in our lifetime.”

And it is not just British politicians she thinks who are to blame for failing to give a balanced narrative about the situation in Israel and Palestine.

“There seems to be a lack of information about what is happening with the Palestinians just in terms of how many children have been imprisoned, shot, killed, how much bombing is still going on in Gaza, the effects of embargoes of hospitals in Gaza.”

“I have yet to see any real sign that our main stream media deals with this in the way that it should, in an objective way and that’s why people take to social media and to blogs.”

Yet in an era of so called ‘fake-news’ it’s easy to see why people might even be sceptical of social media.

“Social media is not a safe space but at least it’s a space where you can in some way get your voice heard.”

Social media currently plays an integral role in spreading awareness of the situation and of some of the struggles faced by Palestinians.

Just typing #FreeAhed into Twitter brings up hundreds of people who are campaigning to free the 16-year-old Palestinian teenager who was imprisoned by Israeli soldiers in December 2017.

From Trump’s decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem to the imprisonment of Ahed Tamimi, it’s hard to see how a peace deal between Israel and Palestine will ever prevail.

“The biggest threat to the peace process is Israel, they don’t want peace.”

“When you have people that are disposed, oppressed, silences, brutalised, efforts for peace have to come from the oppressors, they’re the ones with the power.”

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