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February 18, 2019 2:26 pm

UK Jewish Groups Express Solidarity With Labour MPs Who Resigned Over Antisemitism in Party

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British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn delivers the keynote speech at a Labour conference in Liverpool, Britain, Sept. 26, 2016. Photo: Reuters / Phil Noble.

A number of top British Jewish groups weighed in on Monday following the resignation of seven Labour MPs — who cited, among other issues, pervasive antisemitism in the Jeremy Corbyn-led party as a reason for their move.

Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, stated, “Today a group of seven Labour MPs announced their decision to leave the Labour Party and sit as an independent group in Parliament. In a searing indictment of the Labour leadership both Luciana Berger MP and Mike Gapes MP accused the party of being institutionally antisemitic. In the light of the horrific abuse aimed at Jewish MPs, we stand in solidarity with all those who have been targeted.”

“Labour has failed to deal with antisemitism since the Jewish Community’s Enough is Enough demonstration called on the Labour leadership to act against this racism,” van der Zyl added. “This is a moment of great shame for the Labour Party and a tragedy for the thousands of Jews who have supported the Party for generations.”

The Community Security Trust (CST) also commented on the resignations, saying in a statement, “It is shocking that the problem of antisemitism in the Labour Party has been allowed to fester and grow so much, that several of the MPs who today resigned from the party cited antisemitism as one of the reasons. The fact that Luciana Berger, one of the best known and admired Jewish MPs in Parliament, feels compelled to leave the Labour party due to the antisemitism she has personally suffered is a moment of shame that should cause outrage and alarm across the country.”

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Dave Rich, the CST’s deputy communications director, tweeted, “Don’t underestimate the enormity of a Jewish MP forced to quit the party she has belonged to all her adult life due to the antisemitism she has faced *from within that party*. This is a shameful moment for Labour and a chilling moment for British Jews.”

Jonathan Goldstein, chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council, stated, “Luciana Berger and others have been forced out of their political home by anti-Jewish bullies. … This is desperately sad to see. … The Labour party has disgracefully let her and others down whilst allowing racism against Jews to flourish. British Jews of all political persuasions have been let down because of the antisemitic rhetoric that has entered our political spaces.”

“There can be no greater indictment of a progressive party than the fact it is now tearing itself apart because the leadership has failed to deal with anti-Jewish hatred,” he added. “This is a failure of the Labour Party and blame must lie solely at the leadership’s door.”

“We are proud of Luciana and others for standing up for themselves and for what’s right,” he said.

Chairman of the Campaign Against Antisemitism Gideon Falter declared, “The fight from within the Labour Party is dead.”

“The once fiercely anti-racist Labour Party has become institutionally antisemitic under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn,” he asserted. “He had every opportunity to tackle antisemitism within his Party, but his failure to do so and his appalling personal choices during his political career should leave nobody in any doubt that he himself is an antisemite.”

“Many Labour MPs and members implored Mr Corbyn to act and gave him an unreasonably generous amount of time to act,” Falter continued. “He has not acted and he will not act. Moreover, those who have been swept into positions of power behind Mr Corbyn have shown that they have no intention of addressing antisemitism and instead will wield their power to obstruct the fight against antisemitism.”

“We applaud the seven MPs who have today drawn a line in the sand,” said Falter, “They have decided that if they must choose between the political Party that they have given their lives to build, and the cause of anti-racism, then they must side with the anti-racists against their Party. We are thankful for the solidarity and leadership that they have shown.”

Voices of support even came from within Labour itself. The Jewish Labour Movement stated, “It’s deeply regrettable that the leadership of the Labour Party’s failure to tackle antisemitism has precipitated the resignation of our Parliamentary Chair, Luciana Berger MP and others.”

“Countless Jewish Labour Party members have resigned in these last few years in protest at the abject failure of the Party to address a growing culture of antisemitism, obfuscation and denial,” the group added.

“It will be for our members now to decide what they, and we, do next,” it noted, hinting at potential future defections.

Avi Mayer, the assistant executive director of the American Jewish Committee Global, tied the resignations to a larger trend across Europe, tweeting, “In the span of a single week: The French government announces that anti-Semitic incidents are up 74%. The German government announces that violent anti-Semitic attacks are up 60%. Seven British MPs leave the Labour Party due to ‘institutional anti-Semitism.’ Europe, wake up.”

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