Britain’s Labour Loses Major Jewish Donor Amid Party’s Antisemitism Scandals
Britain’s Labour Party lost one of its major Jewish donors this week, amid increasing scandals surrounding claims of antisemitism, the UK’s Jewish News reported on Wednesday.
According to the report, property developer David Abrahams, who has donated some £650,000 ($947,000) to Labour since 2000, withdrew his support due to the failure of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to confront the problem.
“I have been appalled by the growth of antisemitism in the party,” Abrahams said. “This is a plague that has to be stamped out. Jews and others with values and principles need to work together within the movement to stop the rot.”
Though Abrahams’ longstanding association with Labour is keeping him from severing ties with the party, the Jewish News said, he is “considering” his options following the recent scandal involving MP Naz Shah. As was reported by The Algemeiner, Corbyn was called into question this week when he did not immediately suspend Shah for social media posts calling for the relocation of Israel to the US and comparing Israel to Nazi Germany. “[He] needs to clearly disassociate and distance from her comments. Until he does he won’t be seen as a responsible leader by me,” Abrahams said.
Abrahams’ action is in keeping with claims made earlier this month by Labour member and contributor Michael Foster that major Jewish donors have turned their backs on the party due to increased antisemitism under Corbyn’s leadership. None “has yet given one pound to the central Labour Party” this year, he wrote in the Daily Mail.
British Jewish officials are also voicing concern in the wake of the Shah affair.
On Thursday, Jonathan Arkush, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, was quoted by the Evening Standard condemning Corbyn’s response to Shah. “If a Labour MP was to propose, say, the transportation of black people to Africa for example, I just can’t imagine the shock, the outrage, if that person was allowed to remain in the party a split second,” Arkush said. “It reinforces the regrettable impression and perception that the leader of the party somehow seems to lack the political will to face up to the antisemitic demons in the party.”
Rabbi Baroness Julia Neuberger, a member of the House of Lords, was also quoted by the paper, remarking, “Labour does have a problem with antisemitism. That’s not to say that other parties haven’t…but Labour has a very particular problem, and a particular problem at the moment.”
Labour Peer Baron Michael Levy told BBC Newsnight on Wednesday evening Corbyn’s response has “taken too long” and his leadership has “dithered.” He said antisemitism within Labour is “a serious problem” that must be responded to. “The lack of sensitivity when an MP talks about transportation of the largest Jewish community in the world, I think it just shows such ignorance,” Levy stated.
Labour’s woes continued Thursday when former London mayor and party member Ken Livingstone was suspended for comments he made while defending Shah on BBC Radio London. “When Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews,” he said, adding that he has never heard antisemitic comments from any member of Labour.
According to a statement from the Labour Party, Livingstone will be investigated for “bringing the party into disrepute.”