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December 17, 2019 11:34 am

Top UK Jewish Group Demands Action on Antisemitic Conduct of Five Newly-Elected MPs

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Police officers stand at the vehicle barrier outside the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London, Britain, Aug. 15, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Hannah McKay.

A top UK Jewish group is calling on three major political parties to take action against five newly-elected members of Parliament who have used antisemitic rhetoric in the past.

Although concerns about political antisemitism in recent years — particularly in the run-up to last week’s general election — have mainly concentrated on the Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour party, the MPs listed represent three separate parties and the call to take action against them was non-partisan.

Board of Deputies of British Jews Vice President Amanda Bowman expressed “great concern” over the MPs’ conduct, saying, “We would ask all the political parties in question to treat these cases with the utmost seriousness, and use the full range of disciplinary measures as appropriate, from training on antisemitism and the pernicious use of antisemitic tropes up to and including suspension of the whip.”

“Suspension of the whip” is a term in British politics describing a situation in which an MP retains their seat but is removed from the party list, isolating them from the rest of the legislature. It is usually the final step before expulsion.

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The five MPs are:

– Apsana Begum of the Labour party, who shared a Facebook post saying, “House of Saud are crossing the red line, inspired by their Zionist masters!”

Begum later defended herself to The Telegraph, saying, “The original poster used words that were inappropriate and I wouldn’t use them myself. I’m committed to fighting antisemitism both inside the Labour Party and in wider society.”

– Zarah Sultana, also of Labour, who has a long history of antisemitic statements and told a Jewish vice president of the National Union of Students that he did not “serve Israel as well as you would’ve liked.”

Sultana also said that she would “celebrate” the death of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In 2015, she made a statement of support for Palestinian “violent resistance.”

In another social media post, she said, “Speaking of history repeating itself, Jewish Holocaust 1939-1945 & Muslim Holocaust (Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Chechnya etc) now? Mhm.”

Sultana has further attacked supporters of Israel, saying, “It is not progressive to champion a state created through ethnic cleansing, sustained through occupation, apartheid, and war crimes.”

– Lee Anderson of the Conservative party, who is a member of a Facebook group that publishes conspiracy theories about Jewish billionaire philanthropist and activist George Soros.

The Guardian reported that Anderson was also warned by the party after making sexist comments on Facebook.

– Neale Hanvey, a Scottish Nationalist Party MP who is currently suspended, who espoused conspiracy theories about Soros and compared Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to the Nazi treatment of Jews.

Hanvey said of the controversy, “I am genuinely and deeply sorry. However upsetting this is for me, I fully support the decision of the National Secretary to suspend me.”

– Sally Ann Hart of the Conservative party, who liked a You Tube video comment about Soros and the EU that said “Ein Reich,” and shared a video with an image of Soros as a puppeteer controlling the EU.

The Guardian reported that Hart also expressed support for a blog post saying Muslim organizations were brainwashing American youth. The Conservative party is conducting an inquiry into her conduct.

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