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Jewish Labour Party Veteran in UK Stands by Antisemitism Accusation Against Jeremy Corbyn

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MP Margaret Hodge. Image: BBC News.

The veteran Jewish parliamentarian who accused UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn of being an “antisemitic racist” has defended her comments in an interview with the BBC‘s flagship news show.

In an interview with BBC Radio’s morning program Today, Dame Margaret Hodge — a Labour MP — said she stood by the criticism and that Corbyn should be judged on his actions and not his words.

Hodge said that Corbyn’s approach to the antisemitism that has engulfed Labour since he became party leader in 2015 reminded her of someone who prefaces a racist remark with the words, “I’m not a racist, but…”

“He is the leader of the Labour Party, accountability rests with him,” Hodge said. “You can carry on saying you are not antisemitic but it’s by his actions that he has to be judged.”

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Corbyn’s latest damaging row with British Jews concerns Labour’s refusal to fully adopt the definition of antisemitism drawn up by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). The definition has been adopted as a foundation for policy and practical action by numerous organizations globally and in Britain — including the UK and Scottish governments, the Welsh Assembly, the Crown Prosecution Service, the College of Policing, the National Union of Students,and more than 120 local authorities.

Labour is concerned that pro-Palestinian activists who compare Israeli behavior with that of the Nazis, or who argue that Jews are more loyal to Israel than the UK, would be deemed antisemitic under the terms of the definition.

Hodge said in her BBC interview she had faced abuse on social media since her row with Corbyn. “I have been called a ‘Zionist bitch’ and told I was ‘under orders of my paymaster in Israel,’” she said.

Hodge condemned Corbyn’s immediate resort to disciplinary action against her — a stance that has also drawn criticism from other senior party figures, who pointed to Hodge’s long record of service to the Labour Party and her resounding defeat of a far-right candidate in the parliamentary constituency she represents.

“Within 12 hours of my talking to Jeremy Corbyn face to face, I received a disciplinary letter,” Hodge said. “Think how long it has taken for the Labour party to respond to any allegations of antisemitism. I am not even sure they have responded to terrible words posted online about me, accusing me of horrific things.”

Even UK news outlets normally sympathetic to Corbyn have balked at his attitude toward the Jewish community, with an editorial in The Independent arguing that the scandal over the IHRA definition could backfire on Labour as it prepared for a possible snap election caused by the ongoing Brexit crisis.

“The Labour leadership would be wrong to view this issue as merely one which impacts upon the Jewish vote,” The Independent said. “The party’s woeful mishandling of it sends a damaging signal to many others whose support Labour will need if it is to win power.”

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