British Labour official: Anti-Semitism result of 'lazy thinking'

Shadow foreign secretary of British Labour party argues anti-Semitism is partly result of pro-PA activists equating Jews with Israel.

Ben Ariel ,

Emily Thornberry
Emily Thornberry

Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary of the British Labour party, has categorically ruled out the possibility of a Labour government cutting funding for the security of Jewish institutions in Britain, The Jewish Chronicle reported Thursday.

Thornberry, who spoke at the Limmud Festival, said that ideas to the contrary were the result of “a major misunderstanding” and stressed there was “no way Labour would cut funding”.

In a September interview, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell had been unclear when asked about whether Labour would maintain funding levels for the security of the Jewish community in Britain.

Thornberry said, according to The Chronicle, “I’ve spoken to John McDonnell. This is a major misunderstanding. There is no way there will be any cuts to funding for the Community Security Trust (CST).”

Thornberry also discussed the anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, and argued that in part it was the result of “lazy undisciplined thinking” by people involved with Palestinian advocacy equating all Jews with events in Israel.

“It’s not Jews. It’s not even Israelis. It’s the Israeli government,” she said, adding there was also a “far-left caricature” of capitalism that was “obscene” and revealed anti-Semitic attitudes, and that with the expansion of the party over the last few years, people who held such views had come in.

“The way things were dealt with last summer was shameful,” said Thornberry, in reference to Labour’s seeming inability to deal with the issue of anti-Semitism.

“It breaks my heart to see how we’ve lost trust with Jewish people… why should people trust us, given what’s happened?”

The Labour Party has dealt with anti-Semitism in the party over the last several years. Dozens of Labour members have been suspended over their anti-Semitic statements, and the party has been criticized for its failure to deal with the phenomenon.

Much of the criticism has been directed at Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn who called Hamas and Hezbollah his “friends” and continues to be plagued by incidents of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel statements.

The Daily Mail recently published photos of the Labour leader at a cemetery in Tunisia holding a wreath near the graves of some of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) terrorists who were responsible for the massacre of the 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Days later, a picture emerged of Corbyn apparently making a salute linked to the Muslim Brotherhood organization.

At Thursday’s discussion, according to The Chronicle, one of the participants told Thornberry, “There seems to be an elephant in the room, and that elephant’s name is Jeremy.”

The audience vocally registered its displeasure at some of the Shadow Foreign Secretary’s answers, particularly her statement that “I don’t believe there is a racist or anti-Semitic bone in his [Mr. Corbyn’s] body.”

Similarly, her suggestion that Corbyn had been unable to deal with the issue of Labour anti-Semitism properly because he had been so emotionally affected about having been accused of it himself, was met with derision from the crowd.

On Israel, Thornberry said that she had been visiting Israel regularly since the late 1970s, when her father was stationed there with the United Nations, and that “every time I go, the division between the two sides is greater and the chance of lasting peace gets smaller”.

She said that both her position and that of the Labour Party “begins with a strong commitment to the two-state solution… for Israel to be safe and secure, for Palestine to be viable. A one-state solution will not give a Jewish democratic state.”

Last year, Thornberry called on the British government to mark the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration by formally recognizing a Palestinian state.

Corbyn has indicated that a Labour-led government would recognize an independent state of Palestine “as soon as we take office”.