Jewish MP, Backed by Dozens of Colleagues, Arrives at Antisemitism Hearing Beset by Pro-Corbyn Protesters
Labour lawmaker Ruth Smeeth was escorted by around 50 fellow MPs to a hearing on antisemitism at the British Parliament on Wednesday as she was heckled by far-left protesters shouting slogans such as “Free Palestine.”
The hearing dealt with Labour activist Marc Wadsworth, who had accused Smeeth of being involved in a media conspiracy against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
At the presentation of a 2016 report on antisemitism in the party, which many accused of being a whitewash, Wadsworth said, “I saw that The Telegraph handed a copy of a press release to Ruth Smeeth MP so you can see who is working hand in hand.” Smeeth, who considered the remark antisemitic, left the room and burst into tears. Corbyn, who was present at the meeting, said nothing.
Since Corbyn took control of the party, Labour has been beset with antisemitism scandals. Prominent figures have been suspended for making antisemitic remarks, Jewish and non-Jewish MPs have faced violent harassment for denouncing antisemitism, and Corbyn himself has been found to be a member of several Facebook groups in which antisemitic content was shared.
The situation reached the point that Jewish groups recently organized several public rallies against antisemitism under the slogan “Enough Is Enough.”
Corbyn’s supporters vehemently deny he is antisemitic and claim such allegations are part of a conspiracy to topple him.
According to The Daily Mail, the MPs who accompanied Smeeth were outspoken in their support of her. MP Wes Streeting said, “Victims of abuse giving evidence shouldn’t have to walk through a protest to do so.”
“I’m proud of Labour MPs and peers who stood by Ruth Smeeth this morning,” he added. “That it was necessary to accompany her through a protest is an appalling state of affairs.”
MP Luciana Berger, who is Jewish, demanded action from the party on the issue. “This is Ruth’s case and we want strong action — it has been 22 months,” she said. “There is a lot of talk about due process — that due process has happened.”
She added, “The hearing is taking place today and everyone is looking — including my colleagues who are here today in solidarity with our colleague Ruth Smeeth — for some strong action. And I anticipate that is what will happen. Many people are looking for action, that is why you have got MPs here today.”
The pro-Corbyn protesters echoed the conspiracy theories pervasive among his supporters.
One of them said, “I believe there is a witch hunt going on in the Labour party. It is totally cynical.”
Another asserted, “It is a witch hunt — a stick to beat Jeremy Corbyn with.”
A meeting earlier this week between Corbyn and Jewish leaders went badly. Jonathan Goldstein — president of the Jewish Leadership Council — said that Corbyn “engages in conversation until you ask him to do something. When you ask him to do something he has this habit of staring and just shrugging.”