Antisemitism Watchdog: Labour Inquiry ‘Vague, Meaningless Whitewash’ of Party’s Racism
The results of the UK Labour Party’s investigation into allegations of antisemitism in the party are a “vague, meaningless whitewash” of racism, a leading watchdog said on Thursday.
Jonathan Sacerdoti, director of communications at the Campaign Against Antisemitism, a UK charity which works to expose antisemitism, said in a statement that the Labour inquiry — the results of which were announced Thursday in a special conference — glossed over cases of antisemitism within Labour and has failed to take the party’s leadership to task.
The Labour inquiry — headed by the controversial Shami Chakrabarti — concluded that while there is an “occasionally toxic atmosphere” within the party, it is “not overrun by antisemitism, Islamophobia, or other forms of racism.” The investigation made 20 recommendations, but did not approve lifetime bans for party members who engage in antisemitic or racist behavior.
According to Sacerdoti, “The Chakrabarti Inquiry presented what it set out to present: a narrow set of recommendations on how the Labour Party should change its rules on racism. It did not examine the disgraceful cases of antisemitism in the party, or their even more disgraceful mishandling by party leadership, including [Labour head] Jeremy Corbyn, who presides over a regime of the lightest slaps on wrists for even the most offensive and deliberate antisemites.”
Instead of recommending suspensions for antisemitic Labour members, “inexcusably, the Inquiry proposes making it harder to suspend antisemites and keeping suspensions secret so as not to affect elections,” Sacerdoti said.
Additionally, the Chakrabarti Inquiry proposes that “any antisemitic incident coming to light after more than two years should not be considered,” thereby limiting the period of time Labour members can be held responsible for their own actions. This limitation period, Sacerdoti said, “has no parallel in any other disciplinary regime that we are aware of.”
During Thursday’s conference, Corbyn called on Labour members to stop using Holocaust references. “Can we please leave Hitler and Nazi metaphors alone (especially in the contact of Israel). Why? Because the Shoah [Holocaust] is still in people’s family experience,” he said.
Corbyn also caused an uproar when he compared Israel to ISIS, saying, “Our Jewish friends are no more responsible for the actions of Israel or the Netanyahu government than our Muslim friends are for those of various self-styled Islamic states or organizations.”
Sacerdoti said that “apart from imploring Labour activists to stop calling Jews ‘Zios’ or accusing them of supporting Nazi policy,” the inquiry — which was commissioned at the behest of Corbyn — is a “vague, meaningless whitewash that will do nothing to rid Labour of antisemitism or address the total absence of leadership it has shown on this issue.”
“For Jeremy Corbyn to compare Israel to ISIS during his event dedicated to antisemitism only goes to show just how little grasp he has on this pressing problem for his party,” Sacerdoti said.
On Tuesday, the Labour Party passed a non-binding no-confidence motion in Corbyn in a 172-40 vote. Corbyn has rejected calls from members of his own party demanding his resignation.