The Labour Party and Accusations of Anti-Semitism

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Are accusations of anti-Semitism against the British left justified? Yes and No.

What makes Labour unique from other parties is the multiple instances of abuse its members have directed at Jewish people. However, unlike fringe far right parties desperately trying to breach the mainstream, Labour has done little to refute this. Anti-Semitism on the far left is nothing new. Marx himself wrote in his 1844 essay On the Jewish question, ‘The bill of exchange is the real god of the Jew. His god is only an illusory bill of exchange.’ Here Marx’s presents the Jews as embodying the capitalist values he opposed. But has anti-Semitism really survived in the modern Labour party? Sadly, yes.

Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party, has made no secret of his friendship with the Islamo-Fascist groups Hamas and Hezbollah. One does not have to look far to notice the anti-Semitism present in these groups. In Hamas’s constitution, it references a quote supposedly from the prophet Mohammad, reading: ‘The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!’ Hezbollah also urged Muslims to boycott the film Independence Day, warning that it portrayed a Jewish scientist saving the world and was, thus, Jewish propaganda. These facts alone clearly demonstrate anti-Semitism, but Mr. Corbyn does not seem to care.

In 2016, the former prime minister David Cameron pressed Mr. Corbyn to state that he is not friends with these groups during Prime Ministers Questions. Mr. Corbyn easily stated that he was not friends with racists, but he repeatedly changed the subject when ask to disassociate himself from these particular anti-Semitic groups.

In 2012, The Observer highlighted the links between Nigel Farage, the former leader of the United Kingdom Independent Party (UKIP), and the Polish political figure Father Tadeusz Rydzyk, an outspoken anti-Semite and homophobe. This, quite rightly, provoked grave criticism, as Mr. Farage’s links with intolerant figures reflected on his own views.  Therefore, Mr. Corbyn’s supporters who excuse Mr. Corbyn’s anti-Semitism, despite his links with anti-Semites, must also excuse Mr. Farage.

But Mr. Corbyn is not the only proponent of anti-Semitism in the Labour party. A notable example is the former London Mayor Ken Livingston, who in 2016, made the bizarre claim that Hitler was a Zionist and supported the formation of Israel. The international definition of anti-Semitism considers the equation of Israel and Nazism as anti-Semitic. These comments resulted only in suspension because the Labour leadership does not regard anti-Semitism as requiring expulsion. These were not the first anti-Semitic comments by Mr. Livingston. In 1984, he accused the Jewish Board of Deputies, a group which campaigns against anti-Semitism, of being Neo-Fascists.

Jackie Walker, the former deputy chair of Momentum, also adheres to anti-Jewish conspiracy theories. Ms. Walker wrote in 2016, that Jews had been the primary financiers of the slave trade. She has also remarked that accusations of anti-Semitism had been deliberately exaggerated in an attempt to undermine Mr. Corbyn. These conspiracy theories are classic hall marks of anti-Semitism, yet Ms. Walker was only stripped of her role as vice chair of Momentum, retaining her steering committee position.

The prominence of these conspiracy theories had a profound effect on the remaining Jews in the party, such as MP Ruth Smeeth. In 2016, Ms. Smeeth attended a Labour event, which resulted in her being chased out in tears by a Momentum activist who had accused her of working for the media after saying that anti-Semitism in the party was now the norm. This is just one of many examples of how such conspiracy theories are gradually purging Labour of Jews, and the inactivity of the leadership is a testament to the importance they attach to the safety of Jews.

All the instances of anti-Semitism are too numerous to list here, but these are evidence enough to answer the question posed by this essay. Does Labour show prejudice towards Jewish people? Yes and no. It must not be forgotten that Mr. Corbyn’s predecessor Ed Miliband was of Jewish descent, and there are many in the party who speak out against anti-Semitism. Therefore, it would be unfair and irrational to tar the entire party with one brush. Momentum, on the other hand, represents a distinctly anti-Semitic faction within the Labour party, which once was confined to the fringe.

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