After “shocking” exposé, top UK Jewish group says Labour party has treated anti-Semitism complaints with “utter contempt.”
By Benjamin Kerstein, The Algemeiner
The Board of Deputies of British Jews, the top British Jewish group, slammed the UK’s Labour party on Sunday after it was revealed that its leadership had failed to take proper action against hundreds of anti-Semitic members, saying that Labour had treated Jewish concerns about the issue with “utter contempt.”
In a major exposé over the weekend, The Sunday Times revealed what appeared to be a pattern of inaction in regard to anti-Semitic party members and activists, including those caught making statements laden with obscenities and vulgar racism.
According to the Times, a hard drive containing emails and internal documents compiled by Labour on the issue was obtained by the newspaper. They included emails that showed, for example, that Thomas Gardiner, chief of Labour’s governance and legal unit and an ally of far-left party leader Jeremy Corbyn, had personally held up the investigation of a member who referred to Jewish MPs as being bought off by Israel. The member also referred to the MPs with a pair of vicious obscenities.
In another case, a member said the Board of Deputies were “c***s” and that pointing this out was “not anti-Semitic, it’s anti-c***. See Israel.”
A Labour official also stopped the potential suspension of a council candidate who called Jewish MPs “Zionist infiltrators.”
A sitting councilor and trade union official were readmitted to the party after the former attacked the “Jewish” media and the Rothschild family, while the latter claimed “Jewish Israelis” committed the 9/11 attacks. The councilor said she had used the term “Jewish” as a “blanket term of description without any racist connotation.”
The Times noted that of 863 anti-Semitism complaints against Labour members, 53 percent were unresolved, and 249 were not investigated at all. In the 409 cases that were adjudicated, 191 resulted in no action and 145 in a formal warning. Less than 30 offenders were officially expelled.
In response to the story, Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl said, “The Sunday Times investigation shows that our demands to root out anti-Jewish racism have been treated with utter contempt. Rather than own up to the problem, the Labour leadership has put its efforts into a cover-up operation.”
“Any claims to a politically independent system can now be seen as a total sham,” she asserted. “Labour must now urgently open up its processes to scrutiny by the Jewish community.”
“We stand united with all decent people in the fight against ugly racism,” she added.
Gideon Falter, chairman of the UK watchdog Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, also weighed in, saying, “Jeremy Corbyn is an anti-Semite and a liar. He and his team have claimed ‘never’ to have interfered in disciplinary cases, but there is hard evidence of that happening over 100 times. The contents of the leaked hard drive show concrete proof that Mr. Corbyn and his acolytes have been working hard to ensure that Jew-haters can stay in the Labour party and spread their venom.”
“Mr. Corbyn and his allies are the racist rot at the heart of the once proudly anti-racist Labour party,” he added. “The fight from within is lost: the Labour party is now the vehicle for Mr. Corbyn and his bigoted Jew-hating allies.”
‘Deeply Shocking and Depressing’
Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson said of the news, “This makes for deeply shocking and depressing reading. Labour members and the Jewish community will not understand how, many years on from the first concerns about anti-Semitism being raised, we have not got to grips with it.”
Labour MP Margaret Hodge, an outspoken critic of anti-Semitism in the party, stated, “The scale of the abuse, the depth of the hatred and the total lack of action by the Labour Party is astonishing.”
She added that Corbyn had assured her he did not involve himself in anti-Semitism complaints, but “this investigation proves that either he is lying to me or his office are lying to him.”
A Labour spokesman claimed the numbers cited in the Times report were inaccurate, and added, “The Labour Party takes complaints of anti-Semitism extremely seriously and we are committed to rooting it out. All complaints are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures. We can’t comment on individual cases.”
Since Corbyn seized control of Labour in 2015, the party has been wracked by anti-Semitism scandals, several of them touching Corbyn himself. In February, a group of MPs left the party to form an independent faction, citing institutionalized anti-Semitism as one of the reasons. Polls show the overwhelming majority of British Jews consider Corbyn personally anti-Semitic, and leading UK Jewish groups have accused Labour of not dealing with the problem effectively.