Jewish Watchdog Groups in Britain Seriously Skeptical About Labour Party’s Antisemitism Probe
Representatives of two Jewish watchdog groups in the UK told The Algemeiner on Monday why they are skeptical about the British Labour Party’s probe into allegations of antisemitism in its ranks.
Mark Gardner, director of communications for the Community Security Trust, and Jonathan Sacredoti, director of communications for the Campaign Against Antisemitism, each spelled out his reasons for doubting the inquiry’s ultimate effectiveness.
“Even if the investigation finds in favor of our concerns about antisemitism, it is possible that many Labour members will simply not accept its findings, or that counter-resolutions will go to the next Labour Party conference,” Gardner said. He added, however, that the next few months will “act as a tipping point one way or another. The probe could, at long last, help reverse some of the obsessive anti-Zionism that invites antisemitism or further damage to those who are trying to save the party.”
He was referring to the already controversial inquiry, whose chairwoman, Sami Chakrabarti, admitted last week that she had joined the party on the day of her appointment. Adding further to questions surrounding her ability to be neutral or objective, the Daily Mail reported on Saturday that she had praised a “militant linked to Jihadi John who once said that the ‘crimes’ of Israel outweighed those of the Taliban.” According to the report, in 2007, Chakarbarti called Moazzam Begg, a Guantanamo detainee, a “wonderful advocate…for human rights and in particular for human liberty.”
“There are several key problems with the Chakrabarti inquiry,” said the Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Sacerdoti. “Among them her allegiance to the very party she was appointed to investigate, which does not inspire confidence.”
The probe itself is also being limited in purview, Sacredoti said, explaining, “It is understood that the inquiry’s scope only covers the rules in future cases of antisemitism; it will not examine existing cases that remain unaddressed.” One example he gave was that of Labour MP Sir Gerald Kaufman, who last year accused Israel of fabricating stabbing attacks and claimed “Jewish money” controlled the Conservative Party.
“Chakrabarti has also indicated that she will not be demanding that [former London mayor] Ken Livingstone answer her questions,” Sacredoti said.
Labour’s problem, Sacredoti maintained, is not a result of “the rules being too lax, but because the party’s leadership and structures have failed to identify antisemitism and condemn it properly.” The investigation, he said, should also examine the conduct of party leadership, especially Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. “But it will not,” he asserted.
“Many see Corbyn as part of the problem. He has declared Hamas and Hezbollah to be ‘friends,’ despite their stated genocidal intent towards the Jewish people and their long history of terrorist attacks against Jews,” Sacredoti said, adding that the party leader has “also admitted to possibly having donated money to a Holocaust-denier, as well as having shared a platform with extremists with objectionable views about Jewish people.”
Over the last several months, Labour has suspended more than 50 of its members for antisemitic remarks and actions. According to a recent YouGov poll on behalf of The Times newspaper, nearly half of Labour’s members do not believe the party has a problem with Jews and that the issue has been exaggerated by the media.