Friday, October 22nd | 16 Heshvan 5782

March 26, 2019 4:28 pm

British Jewish Groups Denounce Labour Party Antisemitism on First Anniversary of ‘Enough Is Enough’ Demonstration

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

A young protester holds a placard at a demonstration organized by the Board of Deputies of British Jews to oppose antisemitism in the Labour Party, at Parliament Square in London, March 26, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Henry Nicholls.

Marking one year since British Jews took to the streets outside the Parliament Building in London for the “Enough Is Enough” demonstration against antisemitism in the Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour Party, leading Jewish groups said on Tuesday that little had changed.

Since Corbyn became Labour leader in 2015, the party has been wracked by antisemitism scandals, several of them touching Corbyn himself. Polls show the overwhelming majority of British Jews consider him antisemitic. Several MPs recently quit the party, citing institutionalized antisemitism as one of the main reasons.

The Jewish Leadership Council marked the anniversary of last year’s rally on Tuesday, tweeting, “For a minority community to protest the leadership of the official party of opposition against its handling of racism towards them is something we have still not managed to comprehend. … When we assembled outside Parliament with megaphones and placards at only 24 hours’ notice, we hoped it would be sufficient to spur the Labour Party into action.”

Referring to the Board of Deputies of British Jews, another leading organization, the JLC stated, “The @BoardofDeputies and Jewish Leadership Council wrote to Mr Corbyn with a number of simple steps that Labour could take to regain the confidence of the Jewish community. Mr Corbyn met us. He promised to take action. Yet one year on the crisis of antisemitism in Labour is not only unsolved, it is worse.”

“Since last year, those who have stood up bravely to anti-Jewish racism in the Labour party have been vilified and trolled by people who claim allegiance with Mr Corbyn, while a number of those suspended for antisemitism have been readmitted to the party,” the JLC noted. “Things have got so bad, the Equality & Human Rights Commission may formally investigate the party.”

Noting that the party has done little or nothing to combat the problem, the JLC stated that, instead, British Jews were “being blamed by Labour members for the very racism which is being directed at them.”

“Labour has promised to eradicate this racist poison from the party,” said the JLC, “but we have seen no evidence of progress. A year ago we said ‘Enough is Enough.’ We said that we needed to see action rather than words. We are still waiting.”

The Board of Deputies itself echoed this sentiment, saying, “It is one year to the day since the Jewish community demonstrated outside Parliament to say Enough is Enough on antisemitism. We asked the Labour Party to take steps to eradicate anti-Jewish racism. We are still waiting.”

The board outlined its attempts to persuade Labour to tackle the issue, saying, “We asked Labour to clear the backlog of cases. A year on the backlog remains high. … We asked Labour to improve its disciplinary process. A year later our request for independent oversight has been rejected, the process remains politicised and the [Equality and Human Rights Commission] are sufficiently worried to be considering an investigation.”

“We asked Labour to act on the culture of denial of antisemitism in the party and act against those who support and associate with those who have been expelled. Nothing of substance has been implemented by Labour,” the group added.

The board noted that it had requested the adoption by Labour of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism. “After a shameful summer of prevarication, the definition was adopted in full but a caveat was added which weakened its effect,” the board pointed out.

Regarding Labour’s embattled leader, the board stated, “We called on Jeremy Corbyn to acknowledge his previous failings and offer a heartfelt apology to British Jews and Israeli victims of terror for his previous associations with antisemites and Holocaust deniers. He has not offered an apology or an acknowledgement.”

Meanwhile, one of the dissident MPs who split from Labour, Joan Ryan, spoke at AIPAC’s annual Policy Conference in Washington, DC on Monday and said that Labour was “riddled with antisemitism” and “seeks to demonize and delegitimize Israel.”

“Things can change quickly,” she warned the audience. Urging vigilance against antisemitism, she declared, “We must always call out politicians, from whatever side of the aisle, who question Israel’s right to exist, and engage in vile antisemitic tropes about the loyalties of British or American Jews to their countries.”

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