Jewish MP Who Quit UK Labour Party Over Antisemitism Scandals Joins Liberal Democrats
British Parliament member Luciana Berger joined the Liberal Democrats on Thursday six months after she quit the Labour party over antisemitism within its ranks and leadership.
“This is a moment of national crisis,” Berger, who is Jewish, said, according to The Guardian. “The Liberal Democrats are unequivocal in wanting to stop Brexit and are committed to securing Britain’s future as a tolerant, open, and inclusive society.”
She said he was joining the party “in the national interest” and to “offer a vital, positive alternative” to Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
In February, seven Labour MPs, including Berger, quit the party, citing antisemitism as one of the main reasons.
Announcing her decision to leave Labour, Berger said, “I have become embarrassed and ashamed to remain in the Labour party.”
She called the party “institutionally antisemitic” and said Corbyn and his supporters “willfully and repeatedly failed to address hatred against Jewish people in its ranks.”
“I have not changed — the core values of equality for all, opportunities for all, anti-racism against all, and social justice. The values which I hold really dear and which led me to join the Labour party as a student 20 years ago remain who I am,” she stated.
“And yet these values have been consistently and constantly devalued, undermined, violated, and attacked as the Labour party today refuses to put my constituents and our country before party interest,” she added.
“I am leaving behind a culture of bullying, bigotry, and intimidation,” she said.
Berger’s resignation from Labour was the result of a long struggle within the party over antisemitism. Since Corbyn took control in 2015, the party has been wracked by a series of antisemitism scandals, several touching Corbyn himself. Polls show the overwhelming majority of British Jews consider him personally antisemitic.
A BBC Panorama documentary aired in July shocked viewers with its exposé on the issue.
It detailed many of the upheavals that the party has faced, including former London Mayor Ken Livingstone’s false claim that Zionists collaborated with Hitler, for which he was only temporarily suspended; activist Jackie Walker’s claim that the Jews controlled the trans-Atlantic slave trade; and a general atmosphere of antisemitic attitudes toward Israel and its Jewish supporters abroad.
In regard to Corbyn himself, the program cited, among other things, his defense of a blatantly antisemitic mural; his invitation to tea of Raed Salah, an antisemitic Israeli-Arab preacher who has engaged in the blood libel; his warm words about the terrorist group Hamas; and his claim that he saw the “hand of Israel” behind a jihadist attack on Egyptian soldiers.
The program also included the testimony of many Labour members, Jewish and non-Jewish, some of them near tears, describing an atmosphere of intense antisemitic racism in the party.