Non-Muslim anti-Semitic inciters in the British Labour Party

This is the second in a six part study of the Labour Party as a case study of anti-Semitism among European social democrats, by a world renowned expert on anti-Semitism. The first article dealt with Muslim anti-Semites in the party.

Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld ,

OpEds Manfred Gerstenfeld
Manfred Gerstenfeld
Manfred Gerstenfeld

(For article on Muslim anti-Semitic inciters, click here.)

Muslims have played a disproportionately large role in the current anti-Semitism incitement scandal in the British Labour Party.[1] Additional names should be added to a previous overview of Muslim inciters. One is the Euro-parliamentarian Afzal Khan. In 2014 he tweeted "The Israeli Government are acting like Nazi's in Gaza.” A party spokesman confirmed that Khan would not face any disciplinary action but would be reminded of his responsibilities.[2] This is a convenient rhetorical formula meaning, in plain English, "don't worry, we're not going to touch you..."  

Yet the most prominent perpetrator of anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic slurs in Labour is a native Briton, Ken Livingstone, an extreme leftist and former mayor of London. He has a long and enduring record of hate mongering against Israel and Jews.

In 2005 Livingstone sneered at a journalist, whom he knew was Jewish, calling him a Nazi concentration camp guard.[3] In the same year he welcomed Egyptian-born, Qatar-based Yusuf Al-Qaradawi to London. This leading Sunni cleric condones suicide bombings and has both anti-Semitic and homophobic views. Livingstone said that Al-Qaradawi would help enhance relations between the West and the Muslim religion.[4]

In 2006 Livingstone said, referring to the Jewish Indian-born Reuben brothers, property developers of Iraqi descent: “If they're not happy here, they can go back to Iran and try their luck with the ayatollahs, if they don't like the planning regime or my approach.”[5] One can only imagine what the reactions would be if a London Mayor said the same about a Muslim businessman.

After Jeremy Corbyn was elected as party leader, he appointed Livingstone to co-chair the Labour defense review.[6] Livingstone entered the current Labour anti-Semitism debate by supporting suspended MP Nazim Shah, who had suggested that Israel should be relocated to the United States.[7] Livingstone also said that Hitler supported Zionism,[8] which led to his suspension.[9]

Seamus Milne, however, has not been suspended to date, despite his comments in 2007, when this Hamas supporter called the creation of Israel a crime.[10] His publicly stated views did not prevent Corbyn from bringing him in as Executive Director of Strategy and Communications, a key position in the party.[11]

The origin of the current anti-Semitism debate in Labour can be traced back to the resignation of the chairman of the Oxford University Labour Club (OULC) Alex Chalmers. On his Facebook site, Chalmers wrote that "a large proportion of both the OULC and the student left in Oxford more generally have some kind of problem with Jews."[12] [13] [14] Later Brahma Mohanty, the club’s disabilities officer also resigned. [15] These resignations led to an inquiry by Labour politician Baroness Royall.[16] The party’s National Executive Committee has only allowed parts of the report to be published.[17]

Kirby:“We invented Israel when saving them from Hitler, who now seems to be their teacher,” and even “I will never forget and I will make sure my kids teach their children how evil Israel is!"
After the Oxford University Labour Club (OULC) voted to support Israel Apartheid Week, former Labour party leader Ed Miliband canceled a lecture there. He said that he was deeply disturbed by the claims of anti-Semitism there.[18]

Vicky Kirby was first suspended in 2014 after several tweets she had made on social media became public. She was subsequently readmitted to the party with a warning, and later selected as the vice-chair of the Woking Labour Party’s executive committee.

Kirby was slated to stand for Labour in the Woking constituency in the 2015 general elections. The party withdrew her candidacy when it was found that she had again posted a number of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel tweets on social media. Some stated that Hitler might be the “Zionist God,” that “we invented Israel when saving them from Hitler, who now seems to be their teacher,” and even “I will never forget and I will make sure my kids teach their children how evil Israel is!” This was in line with her previous twitter history, including a post from 2011 which referred to Jews having "big noses," and one where she asked why ISIS has not attacked the real oppressors, Israel.[19] [20] She has now been suspended again.

Also suspended was Jackie Walker, a vice chair of the Momentum – a left wing faction of Labour -- National Steering Committee and vice-chair of the South Thanet Labour party. She wrote about "the African holocaust" and Jews as "chief financiers of the sugar and slave trade".[21] Walker mentioned that she was of Jewish origin, an irrelevant remark as Jews can be anti-Semites just like anybody else.

David Watson is the now suspended fundraising coordinator for the Walthamstow Labour Party. Watson had shared an article on his Facebook site comparing the Mossad with the Nazis and accusing Israel of genocide against the Palestinians.[22]

Another party member suspended is John McAuliffe, who writes for online publications and claims he is a foreign affairs specialist. He stated on his Facebook site that the Holocaust was “a political tool” used by Israel "to establish a financial racket in the West."[23]

Although by far the most anti-Semitic statements in politics which have recently come to light have been made by Labour party members, they are not alone. Former Liberal Democrat MP David Ward is now a councilor for the party in Bradford. He tweeted “Credit to #NazShah for raising important issue of #US support for rogue State of #Israel”.

A Yorkshire Lib Dem spokesman said: “David has been reminded of his obligations as an elected official, and the party’s commitment to reject antisemitism,”[24] another example of empty rhetoric. During Ward's 2013 stint in parliament, he had called Israel an apartheid state, and was suspended by his party.[25] 

Between Muslim and non-Muslim inciters in the British Labour party, the magnitude and range of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic slurs which has come to the fore is major. There have been suggestions that Jews were behind 9/11 and ISIS, claims that orthodox Jews in Russia were involved in sex-trafficking and those expressing disgust at "powerful" Jews in the United States. Hitler’s name has also featured prominently in the slurs, in statements that he was the greatest man in history, that he was the Zionist God and that Hitler supported the Zionists. 

With regard to Israel, the range is even broader. The slurs include statements that the creation of Israel was a crime and that Britain might apologize for the Balfour Declaration.[26] Some elected Labour representatives have accused Israel of being behind ISIS, of behaving toward the Palestinians like Nazis, and have claimed that Israelis have perpetrated a holocaust in Gaza.

However, despite the significance of non-Muslim anti-Semitic and anti-Israel incitement in the Labour party, their remarks and statements were surpassed by Aysegul Gurbuz’s desire for genocide. This Muslim Luton Labour councilor tweeted that she hopes Iran would use nuclear weapons to “wipe Israel off the map.”[27]