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August 9, 2016 7:33 am

Major British Jewish Organization: Antisemitic Fringe in Labour Emboldened by Rise of Jeremy Corbyn (INTERVIEW)

avatar by Lea Speyer

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UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. Photo: Twitter.

UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. Photo: Twitter.

The formerly marginalized antisemitic fringe in Britain’s Labour Party has been emboldened by the rise of leader Jeremy Corbyn, the head of a major UK Jewish organization told The Algemeiner on Monday.

Paul Charney, chairman of the Zionist Federation UK (ZFUK), was giving his perspective on latest expression of anti-Israel sentiment in Labour – one many episodes that have come to light.

“Part of the problem is that while we recognize the classical version of anti-Jewish prejudice from the far-Right, collectively we are struggling to come to terms with its variant on the hard Left,” said Charney, following a report in the Daily Mail on Sunday about comments made by Communities spokesman Grahame Morris – who issued a call to treat British Jews serving in the Israeli army as suspected terrorists – and by Justice spokesman Richard Burgon, who declared Zionism the “enemy of peace,” and urged party members to dissociate from the parliamentary group Labour Friends of Israel. “This new antisemitism, often dressed up as anti-Zionism, unfortunately seems to be part and parcel of the totemic obsession with the Palestinian cause.”

The Daily Mail also reported on Sunday that an anti-Israel organization — whose leader openly praised Hamas — donated £10,000 to Corbyn’s campaign. In response, a Labour spokesman said that the donation, made by Friends of Al-Aqsa, was never cashed, because it was “made out to the wrong person.”

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This was not the first time that Corbyn came under fire for alleged associations with terrorist groups, and was castigated for previous statements in which he referred to Hamas and Hezbollah as “friends.”

Such ties “obviously caused distress to the Jewish community,” Charney told The Algemeiner, adding that attempts by British Jewry to “raise their concerns have triggered further hostility from an army of Corbynistas.”

Charney said that though it would be “naive” to think that antisemitism and anti-Zionism will lead to the downfall of the party, “The more stories like this emerge, and the greater the suspicion that the current Labour leadership is unwilling or unable to tackle or even recognize what contemporary antisemitism looks like, the greater the perception will become that, as it stands, the party is a toxic environment for Jews.”

ZFUK is not the only organization voicing harsh criticism of Labour’s handling of antisemitism in the party.

Jonathan Sacerdoti, director of communications at the Campaign Against Antisemitism, said in a statement that Labour’s “constant stream of controversy and scandal…further erodes the trust of all reasonable Britons in the party itself.”

“Weak cover stories, half excuses, support from and for extremists, power and honor being handed to those covering up antisemitism, and now money being donated by terrorist sympathizers and supporters; there can be no question that this is being misread or spun by a specific interest group,” he said.

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