BBC Clearly Exposes Antisemitism in the UK Labour Party
The BBC Panorama documentary on antisemitism within the British Labour Party — broadcast on July 10 — had a number of important merits. It exposed many unknown details of Jew-hatred within the party, and also provided new information about one of the key aspects of Labour antisemitism — “smokescreening.”
Smokescreening methods include claiming that someone is taking determined action to correct a situation, while doing so only partly. This approach characterizes several individuals who hold senior positions within the Labour Party. They do not say: “We protect antisemites whom we consider valuable to the party.” Yet this is exactly what they do.
Jeremy Corbyn is a “super-smokescreener.” He has on many occasions said that the party will stamp out antisemitism. In fact, while criticizing the Panorama documentary, he again repeated his often-used smokescreen, saying: “Antisemitism is a poison, it is vile, it is wrong. … It is not acceptable in any form.”
Corbyn, a self-defined anti-racist, has called representatives of Hezbollah and Hamas his “brothers” and “friends.” He has made donations to an organization run by Holocaust denier Paul Eisen and associated with other Holocaust distorters. He is a long-term anti-Israel inciter, and a part-time antisemite. The Panorama program made it clear that Corbyn’s arrival as party leader in September 2015 greatly encouraged antisemites in Labour to go public. A staffer said on the program that before his leadership, complaints about antisemitism were very limited. One former staffer interviewed also said that she was regularly told that “Hitler was right” and “Hitler did not go far enough.”
Once the antisemitism outburst erupted, Corbyn and the people around him could easily have stamped it out. But there is much evidence that the Labour leadership did not want to do so. In fact, it protected some of the worst offenders. The Commons Home Affairs Committee’s 2016 report said that Labour leadership’s lack of action “risks lending force to allegations that elements of the Labour movement are institutionally antisemitic.”
This has been detailed by Alan Johnson, a scholar and member of Labour. He published a report titled, “Institutionally Antisemitic Contemporary Left Antisemitism and the Crisis in the British Labour Party.”
As a reaction to the Panorama documentary, the four most senior Labour leaders in the House of Lords wrote to Corbyn offering to establish a panel to review the allegations of the former staffers in the documentary. They also offered advice and support on how to start a properly independent complaints process.
Accepting this suggestion may be at least a partial solution to getting rid of many more antisemites in the Labour Party. But Lord Falconer, a former senior Labour minister, says there are thousands of them.
Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld is the emeritus chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs think tank.