Report says UK Labour failing to confront anti-Semitism

British parliamentary committee publishes damning report stating Labour's leadership is failing to seriously confront anti-Semitism.

Ben Ariel, Canada,

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn
Reuters

A British parliamentary committee of inquiry is upholding claims that the Labour party’s leadership is failing to confront seriously anti-Semitism in its ranks, JTA reported Sunday.

Raised persistently by leaders of British Jewry following the election last year of Jeremy Corbyn to lead Labour, the accusation was reaffirmed in the publication of a scathing report entitled “Anti-Semitism in the UK” compiled by the Home Affairs Select Committee of the House of Commons, the lower house of the United Kingdom.

Corbyn’s “lack of consistent leadership on this issue, and his reluctance to separate anti-Semitism from other forms of racism, has created what some have referred to as a ‘safe space’ for those with vile attitudes towards Jewish people,” read the withering report, according to JTA.

The contents of the report were agreed upon unanimously by the 11 lawmakers who wrote it. Five of them were from Labour, noted the news agency.

Corbyn, who was re-elected last month to head Labour after being elected in 2015, has faced allegations that his pro-Palestinian politics and tolerance of radical anti-Semites has encouraged hate speech against Jews.

He has come under fire himself due to his calling Hamas and Hezbollah his "friends" and for outright refusing to condemn those two terrorist organizations despite being urged to do so by local Jewish groups.

In addition to Corbyn, Labour has suspended dozens of members in recent months over their anti-Semitic statements.

The most senior was former London Mayor Ken Livingstone, whose membership was suspended after he suggested and later insisted that Adolf Hitler was a Zionist.

Livingstone has refused to apologize for his comments and has repeatedly stressed that he stands by them.

The document released Sunday is the first major independent probe into anti-Semitism in Labour under Corbyn, a problem that the Board of Deputies of British Jews and other community organs have accused Corbyn of downplaying and even whitewashing in internal party probes.

Noting Corbyn’s ties to individuals accused of anti-Semitism and his 2009 expression of support for Hamas and Hezbollah – a gesture he in July said he regretted – the report further states that, “despite his proud record on fighting racism, the Committee is not persuaded that Mr. Corbyn fully appreciates the distinct nature of contemporary anti-Semitism, and the fact that it is perfectly possible for an ‘anti-racist campaigner’ to express anti-Semitic views.”

This and other failures were “exacerbated by the party’s demonstrable incompetence at dealing with members accused of anti-Semitism,” read the 70-page document.

The Home Affairs report called on Labour to adopt a definition of anti-Semitism, take stricter action against those caught making anti-Semitic statements and train members on the difference between criticizing Israel and disseminating anti-Semitic, among other steps.

It also urged “law enforcement and political party officials” to treat the word “Zio” or “Zionist” in an accusatory context as “inflammatory and potentially anti-Semitic,” wrote the authors, who added some anti-Semites use that term instead of saying “Jewish” or “Jew.”

Two internal probes designed to assess the prevalence of expressions of anti-Semitic in Labour — one of the entire party and another of its Oxford University club — said the party had a minority of anti-Semites but no institutional anti-Semitism.

The parliamentary report, however, said both probes were flawed and added, “The failure of the Labour Party consistently and effectively to deal with anti-Semitic incidents in recent years risks lending force to allegations that elements of the Labour movement are institutionally anti-Semitic.”

Leaders of the British Jewish community praised the report, including the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, who said it was “a critical source document for future work in the area.”

James Sorene, CEO of the BICOM pro-Israel group, said in a statement quoted by JTA, “This report brings much needed clarity where previously there has been denial, obfuscation and abdication of responsibility.”

Jonathan Sacerdoti, a founding trustee of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism charity, said that, “The importance of this report should not be underestimated” as it “finally goes much further towards properly acknowledging the many ways in which Jewish people have long known anti-Semitism was being allowed to take root in Britain.”

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Sukkot in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)








top