Newly-Appointed Jeremy Corbyn Advisers Boost Concerns Over Antisemitism in UK Labour Party
Jeremy Corbyn, the far-left leader of Britain’s Labour Party, stepped into a new controversy on Monday with the appointment of two advisers with records of viscerally anti-Zionist and antisemitic statements.
Corbyn — whose two-year tenure at the helm of the party has been dogged by a stream of antisemitic statements and actions by his close colleagues and supporters — is competing in his first general election on June 8. Opinion polls uniformly project that Theresa May, the current Conservative prime minister, will win the contest by a significant majority.
Over the weekend, Corbyn’s inner circle was expanded to bring in new advisers. Corbyn’s election campaign is now being run by Andrew Murray, the former chair of the Stop the War Campaign, which energetically promotes the BDS effort targeting Israel. The man reported to be his new trade union adviser, Tim Lezard, has meanwhile been revealed as the author of a series of antisemitic tweets — including one which asked why British taxpayers should foot the bill for security at synagogues since, according to Lezard, Israel’s actions in Gaza were the source of rising antisemitism in the UK.
Murray — who was until last year a leader of the Communist Party of Britain, a tiny group that reveres the late Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and supports North Korea — has attacked Israel and declared his support for terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas on numerous occasions.
In one 2012 speech, Murray threatened:“We have a message for the Israeli embassy, the Israeli government… every time you kill a Palestinian child, you are digging your own graves.”
During Murray’s decade as the head of the Stop the War Campaign — which organized public opposition to the 2003 Iraq War around the slogan “Freedom for Palestine” — the movement’s website regularly published material attacking Israel’s right to exist. One article by Professor Richard Falk urged a “war on Israel” as the only “path to peace in the Middle East.”
Lezard, for his part, used the Twitter handle @TolpuddleTim for his antisemitic tweets. On Monday, Lezard placed his Twitter account on private view after the Jewish Chronicle published his tweet that questioned state funding for synagogue security.
On another occasion, in 2011, Lezard wrote: “I’m thinking of setting up another new campaign group. Either Conservative Friends of Nazis, or Nazi Friends of Israel. Whaddya reckon?”
A new poll published by the Independent newspaper on Monday showed that Corbyn had experienced a small poll boost, with 32% of voters pledging support for his party. “However, the Conservatives still command a hefty lead of between 14 and 15 points,” the paper said.