Antisemitic Labour Party Banner in Bristol Removed as UK Election Gets Underway
The accusations of antisemitism that have dogged the British Labour Party for two years were in full evidence on Thursday, as millions of British voters went to the polls for the country’s national election.
Hours before the voting booths opened, Labour supporters in the city of Bristol, in the west of England, were instructed to remove an enormous banner that displayed incumbent Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May wearing Star of David earrings.
The Bristol Post quoted a local Jewish woman who did not want to be named expressing her horror at the image.
“I know it’s a political banner, and I know it’s anti-Theresa May, but why include the Star of David?” she asked. “I think it’s antisemitic.”
“I’m stunned that we, as a society, have gone back to this,” the woman said. “I can’t believe stuff I haven’t heard of, or seen since I was a child is now happening again.”
Closer scrutiny of the offending banner — described as “the size of a bus” — revealed the presence of the word “Balfour” above one of the Star of David earrings superimposed on a profile photo of Prime Minister May.
Palestinian demands that Britain formally apologize for the 1917 Balfour Declaration — which promised “a national home in Palestine” to the Jewish people — have been aggressively echoed by their supporters in the UK.
Local Labour Party candidate Thangham Debbonaire, who is seeking re-election in Bristol West, denounced the banner and declared antisemitism had no place in the party.
She said in a statement on Facebook: “There is no excuse for this. It is antisemitic. Antisemitism has absolutely no place in our party and I will not tolerate it.”
Nima Masterson, one of the designers of the banner, denied that the earrings were meant to convey the conspiracy theory that May and her Conservative Party are controlled by shadowy, “Jewish” interests.
“I’m definitely not an antisemite,” Masterson explained. “I have Jewish friends, and my half brother and sister are Jewish.”
Since far-left leader Jeremy Corbyn took Labour’s helm in 2015, the party has been forced to counter repeated accusations of antisemitism — often because of social media postings by local Labour leaders and activists which trafficked in antisemitic and anti-Zionist themes. An internal inquiry in 2016 determined that while there had been instances of antisemitism, these were isolated and not representative of a deeper problem in the party.