Labour-Party Anti-Semitism — Scotland Yard Launches an Investigation

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (Yves Herman/Reuters)
It’s the logical consequence of scandals that have rocked Labour since Jeremy Corbyn became leader three years ago.

The last time that I wrote about Jeremy Corbyn, the British Labour leader, was in August 2018, after the decision by the party not to adopt in full the definition of anti-Semitism as enunciated by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. On Friday, the Metropolitan Police Service of Greater London announced that Scotland Yard had opened a criminal investigation into alleged anti-Semitic hate crime in the Labour party. The investigation is the logical consequence of the accumulation of anti-Semitism scandals that have rocked the party since Corbyn became leader in the summer of 2015.

The leaked dossier, police sources say, contains over 80 pages of alleged anti-Semitic statements, including Holocaust denial. Among the messages that are alleged to have been written or spoken by Labour-party members are “We shall rid the Jews who are cancer on us all” and “Zionist extremist MP who hates civilised people about to get a good kicking.”

This is just the tip of the iceberg. The climate within Labour is now so hostile that at a party conference in September a Jewish MP, Luciana Berger, required special police protection from violent anti-Semitic Labour members. In a different incident, a Jewish woman was kicked in the face outside a pro-Corbyn event in North London, where she demonstrated against the party’s handling of anti-Semitism charges. John Mann, another Labour MP who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism, charged that he was trolled by Corbyn supporters who said his grandson’s falling ill was “karma” for the elder’s criticizing the Labour leader and standing up to anti-Semitism.

Corbyn, meanwhile, is paying lip service to the need to address anti-Jewish hatred. “Driving antisemitism out of the party for good, and rebuilding that trust, are our priorities,“ he wrote in the Guardian in August 2018. In the same article, however, he lamented “the killing of many unarmed Palestinian protesters in Gaza,” encouraging the very conflation — between British Jewry and the policies of the Israeli government — that is at the heart of many of Labour’s anti-Semitism scandals. Once you understand that mindset, you understand why anti-Semitism in the Labour party has been nurtured and is now endemic at every level within the institution.

Here is one example. In August, it emerged that Corbyn attended a commemoration ceremony for the Black September terrorists, who took part in the 1972 massacre of eleven Israelis at the Munich Olympics. Corbyn denied the charges until a photo of him was leaked to the press, which showed him holding a wreath and standing next to Maher al-Taher, chief of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

“I was present when it was laid,” Corbyn said of the wreath-laying ceremony as he complained over the media’s coverage of the event. “I don’t think I was actually involved in it.” Last week the Daily Mail reported that the Labour party told the Independent Press Standards Organisation that it does not wish to take the case against the newspaper any further.

In another incident, Corbyn came under fire in September when it emerged that in 2010 he had accepted a dinner invitation from Hamas, designated a terror organization by the European Union and the United States. In the footage released by the Sun, Corbyn praised the invitation as “very nice of them and quite a nice gesture.” He had previously described both Hamas and another terror organization, the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, as his “friends.”

Despite hard evidence of systemic and widespread anti-Semitic sentiments in the Labour party, Corbyn and his inner circle have repeatedly downplayed the magnitude of the problem.

Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, would oversee hate crimes if Corbyn were ever elected prime minister. She said that “there is no basis for arguing that the Labour party is riddled with antisemitism” and that “it’s something of a smear against ordinary party members, it is, it is a smear to say the Labour party has a problem with antisemitism.”

Meanwhile, Labour’s internal disputes panel is currently chaired by Claudia Webb, a former adviser of Ken Livingstone, who defended him after he compared a Jewish journalist to a concentration-camp guard. Webb said in August that the “combined machinery” of “state, political, and mainstream” elites were conspiring to smear Corbyn with “false allegations” of anti-Semitism. A month earlier, a recording emerged of Peter Willsman, a senior Corbyn ally and a member of Labour’s National Executive Committee, accusing “Jewish Trump fanatics” of fabricating evidence of anti-Semitism.

The criminal investigation by the Metropolitan Police won’t put an end to the hatred that has taken root in the Labour party. But it gives the victims of this vicious ideology comfort to know that no one is above the law, no matter how hard the party tries to make the problem go away.

This is important, particularly in the wake of the horrific massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh shooter thought Jews control the world. The same conspiracy theory we hear from Islamists and Corbyn supporters. Hatred and intolerance should have no place in modern political movements, not on the left and not on the right. No more mental gymnastics. No more whitewashing. No more excuses.

Julie Lenarz is a senior fellow at The Israel Project and the director of the Human Security Centre in London.


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