Antisemitism in the Western World and the UK Labour Party
Antisemitism is rising in many places in the Western world. But for the purpose of efficiently studying antisemitism and the fight against it in a single case study, nothing in Europe can rival the British Labour party.
The main enabler of ongoing antisemitism in Labour is Jeremy Corbyn, the party’s leader since 2015. He has called representatives of Hezbollah and Hamas his “brothers” and “friends.” Corbyn has made donations to Holocaust deniers, and has welcomed them into his orbit. He is a longtime anti-Israel inciter, and a part-time antisemite. He and his close assistants hinder the full eradication of antisemites from the party. And the UK’s Sunday Times claims that Corbyn’s office has been involved in delaying or blocking at least 101 complaints.
In March 2019, British scholar Alan Johnson, a Labour member, published a 135-page report that concluded that the party is institutionally antisemitic. Johnson divided the antisemitism there into three categories: the socialism of fools, classical racial antisemitism, and antisemitism as anti-Zionism.
The Labour Against Antisemitism movement has collected data for a report containing 15,000 screenshots showing examples of alleged antisemitism in Labour. This file was submitted this month to the UK Equality and Human Right Commission (EHRC). Later in May, it became known that approximately 100,000 emails and WhatsApp messages from within Labour — collected by former party officials — would be submitted to the EHRC.
The EHRC has already undertaken the first step of a statutory inquiry into Labour’s handling of antisemitic complaints. It is expected to open a full inquiry into Labour in the coming weeks. Such an investigation of a political party only happened once before, in 2010, when the small British National Party (BNP) was found guilty of racism.
The EHRC report may take up to two years to complete. It is likely to provide one of the most profound analyses of antisemitism in a single organization ever in history.
Whitewashing of antisemitism can also be studied by focusing on the cases of Labour members who made antisemitic slurs and have not been expelled from the party. Beyond that, there are also those who target people who expose the antisemitism in Labour.
Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) is a small organization that supports Corbyn. One of its officials, Glyn Secker, addressed a pro-Palestinian rally in London, and said that the Jewish Labour Movement and MP Dame Margaret Hodge are a fifth column inside Labour, and added: “Jews are in the gutter with these rats.”
Yet another aspect for antisemitism research is the overlap in Labour between anti-Israel inciters and whitewashers of antisemitism. Former Labour Minister Clare Short wrote on her blog in July 2016: “The charge of antisemitism used against members of the Labour party critical of Israel is a ploy to detract from Israel’s breaches of international law.”
The Labour antisemitism scandal has aspects that go beyond the party itself. Labour is an observer at the Socialist International (SI). This worldwide organization brings together 147 political parties and organizations from all continents. The SI has a detailed ethical charter that includes a “total commitment to the values of equality and solidarity.” It respects the rights of minorities and individuals. By not acting against Labour, the SI leadership and its members are complicit with that party’s institutional antisemitism. And they cannot claim ignorance, because the SI offices are located in London.
Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld is the emeritus chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs think tank.