Antisemitism in the Labor Party

Antisemitism in the UK Labor Party has been the subject of recent public controversy, [1] [2] [3] prompting party leader Jeremy Corbyn to establish the Chakrabarti Inquiry in 2016. A number of party activists and several senior expelled or suspended after Labor Party Investigations concluded they had brought the party into disrepute; some were subsequently reinstated.

Incidents continued in 2017, and British Jews polled on the subject in 2017 have ranked Labor at 3.94 (from 5) for “degree of antisemitism among political party members and elected representatives”, [4] and 83% said that racist feelings were not Trained members of parliament, members of the party, or Labor Party supporters. [5] Some in the party have disputed that the party is antisemitic and has criticized criticisms of willfully exaggerating incidents. This includes some Jewish groups such as those for Justice for Palestinians and the Jewish Socialists’ Group who have blamed “right-wing political forces”.


Historically, British Jews have supported the Labor movement and party, which, for most of its existence, has been regarded as uninvolved with antisemitism. The Jewish Labor Movement , the UK arm of Poale Zion , supported the Labor Party, affiliating to the party in 1920. The Labor Party had an historical affinity for Israel both because of the labor movement and by a broad, political left that historically supported national movements, and Because It felt an affinity for Labor Zionism , qui Was the dominant movement Within pre-state political Zionism, and the political identity of the founding government of Israel in 1948 and Israeli government up to the election of Menachem Beginin 1967. [1] [3]

1980s; claimed origin of antisemitic attitudes

Although antisemitic attitudes were rare in the 1980s, [1] [3] in his 2016 book, The Left’s Jewish Problem: Israel’s Jeremy Corbyn, Anti-Semitism , and Dave Rich attributes what he believes in the origin of antisemitism the Labor Party to Attitudes towards Jews and Israel in the early 1970s. At that time, a coalition that included Peter Hain and Louis Eakes of the Young Liberals wing of the British Liberal Party “pioneered” the reframing of the Zionist movement as an imperialist project imposing apartheid on an indigenous people. [6] [7][8]

James R. Vaughn traces the origin of anti- Semitism within the party to the creation of the Middle East Council in 1969 by Christopher Mayhew , laying a foundation of radical anti-Zionism that enabled the growth of antisemitism within the Labor Party. [9] Mayhew joined the Liberal Party in 1974, [10] according to Vaughn, his rhetoric from the 1960s onwards, “blurred the boundaries between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism”. [11] According to Rich, Mayhew founded the Council in order to change the “pro-Israel” position of the Labor Party. [12]Mayhew was one of the 15 Labor MPs who voted with the Conservatives in favor of imposing an arms embargo on Israel. [13]

Dave Rich credits the British Anti-Zionist Organization (BAZO), established in 1975 to focus on university students, with “show (ing) how to highly ideological anti-Zionism can … incubate anti-Semitic campaigns”. [14] Bazo distributed anti-Semitic leaflets and argued that Zionists encourages anti-Semitism to benefit Israel, and that Zionists collaborated with the Nazi regime during the second World War. [14] According to the Labor MP Richard Burden , who was a member of the BAZO Executive in the 1970s, [14] BAZO was funded by the government of Iraq. [15] BAZO was banned by the National Union of Students by the early 1980s for distributing antisemitic material. [15]Burden and George Galloway , then a Labor Party member, both visited the Middle East on a 1977 BAZO tour. [15] Galloway credits the BAZO trip with igniting his enduring support for the Palestinians. [15] Tony Greenstein, Labor Party activist in the 1980s and founder of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign , was a BAZO member. [15]

According to June Edmunds, University Lecturer in Sociology of the University of Sussex , the party’s leadership shifted to an anti-Israel attitude in the early 1980s, though the membership did not. [13] Noting that “fringe” Palestinian groups began operating at the annual conference in the 1970s, Edmunds credits the shift to fading memories of the plight of Jews in the 1940s, together with agitation for party change by Arab and socialist groups. [13] Paul Kelemen, in his 2012 book, The British Left and Zionism: History of a Divorce,It may be argued that it may have been antisemitism, that it may be used in the context of the labor market in Israel in the 1980s, and that it should be treated as purely political. [16]

The Labor Committee on Palestine was formed in June 1982 to challenge the Labor Middle East Council, which supported a two-state solution, and to oppose the “Zionist state as racist, exclusivist, expansionist and direct agency of imperialism.” Labor politicians Ken Livingstone of the Greater London Council and Ted Knight of the London Lambeth Council Borough Council were early supporters; the chair was trainer BAZO activist Tony Greenstein. [17] The new Committee backed a resolution at the 1982 Party conference to recognize the PLO as the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, which passed at conference,” embarrassing “the Party leadership. [18]Knight and Livingstone established the Herald newspaper with funding by the PLO [17] and, in 1982, the Herald was accused by The Jewish Socialist Group of publishing’s “blatantly anti-Semitic” book review. No apology was made. [19]


On 14 August 2015, as Jeremy Corbyn emerged as a front-runner for the position of Party Leader, The Jewish Chronicle was discussed in front of the headlines: “The key questions Jeremy Corbyn must answer”. [20] [21] [22] [23] The questions raised were made known by Corbyn’s endorsements of antisemitic ideas; his relationship with the anti-Semitic and militant Islamist organizations Hezbollah and Hamas , organizations that Corbyn called “friends” (although he has stated his disagreements with their views); [24]The London Quds Day rallies supported by the organization, Stop the War Coalition of which Corbyn was national chair form 2011-2015. [25] MP Diane Abbott defended Corbyn by calling his critics part of a “Westminster elite” of Corbyn’s anti-austerity agenda. [26] MP Alan Johnson , a socialist and supporter of Palestinian statehood, published a “Letter” criticizing Corbyn’s support for Hamas and Hezbollah, Stephen Sizer and Raed Salah , all known for antisemitic statements and policies. [27]

2016 inquiries

Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn launched an internal inquiry on April 29, 2016 following the publication of comments by Naz Shah and Ken Livingstone , for comments that were widely called antisemitic, both of which have been suspended pending investigation. The report was criticized by many by whom? ] And Described as a ‘whitewash’, [28] [29] and as a “whitewash for peerage scandal” [30] [31] [32] Shami Chakrabarti led the inquiry and joined the Labor Party on the Sami day She Was appointed to chair the investigation. [33]Jan Royall, who was at the time holding an investigation into antisemitism at Oxford University’s Labor Club (OULC), and Director of the Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism David Feldman , whom Chakrabarti had to defend It has been claimed that some of the allegations of antisemitism within Labor have been “baseless and disingenuous”. [33]

Livingstone was suspended for a year by the National Constitutional Committee, for breaching rule 2.1.8. [34] Shah was reinstated [35] after accepting a number of conditions (such as apologizing for bringing the party into disrepute and to carryout engagement with the Jewish community). [36]

British author Howard Jacobson called the Chakrabarti Inquiry “a brief and shoddy shuffling of areas” that “spoke to very few of the people charging the party with anti-Semitism and perceived their arguments.” [37] Jacobson also suggested that Corbyn nominating Chakrabarti for peerage was shown to be popular for those who had raised issues over antisemitism in the party. [38]

Following allegations of antisemitism from the Oxford University Labor Club, an inquiry was launched by the Labor Party’s national student organization, chaired by Jan Royall. [39] The party’s National Executive Committee accepted the report in May 2016. Royall leaked it. [40] The report found that while there was a “cultural problem” in which “behavior and language that would have been intolerable is now tolerated” leading to some anti-Semitic behavior towards Jewish students there ” itself institutionally anti-Semitic “. [41]

In 2016, the Home Affairs Select Committee held an inquiry into antisemitism in the United Kingdom. The committee found “no reliable, empirical evidence to support the notion that there is a higher prevalence of antisemitic attitudes within the Labour party than any other political party”. However, it was critical of Corbyn’s response to antisemitic incidents against Labour MPs. The committee described the Chakrabarti inquiry as “ultimately compromised”.[42] The report also found that “the failure of the Labour Party to deal consistently and effectively with anti-Semitic incidents in recent years risks lending force to allegations that elements of the Labour movement are institutionally anti-Semitic”.[43]

In May 2016 American political scientist Norman Finkelstein (whose map “Solution for the Israel-Palestine conflict – relocate Israel to United States” was shared by MP Naz Shah leading to claims she was antisemitic) described the controversy as “obscene”, adding that he posted the map because he found it funny, claiming that such “jokes are commonplace in the US”. Continuing, “What are they doing? Don’t they have any respect for the dead? … … All these desiccated Labour apparatchiks, dragging the Nazi holocaust through the mud for the sake of their petty jostling for power and position. Have they no shame?”[44]



In November 2017, a labour party member was suspended following the posting of what Adam Langleben called antisemitic comments. The party member was suspended after councillor Adam Langleben reposted the material, saying that the Labour party had failed to take action prior to publication.[45][46]

In another incident, a Labour council candidate was removed from the Labour candidate list in Bradford after making allegedly antisemitic remarks such as “teachers are brainwashing us and our children into thinking the bad guy was Hitler” and “What have the Jews done good in this world?”[47][48]

In December 2017, a Brighton and Hove Labour housing campaigner was suspended after posting a “spoof” Hanukkah video featuring 3 dancing Orthodox Jews with the faces of local councilors superimposed on Facebook. The campaigner denied allegations of anti-semitism, stating that he condemned “all forms of racism” and stated that the posts were meant to be “a bit of fun, not racist”[49][50]


During the 2017 election campaign Jeremy Newmark, the chairman of the Jewish Labour Movement, said that “Jeremy Corbyn appears to have failed to understand the nature of contemporary anti-Semitism in the same way that it’s understood by most of its target group”. Labour MP Wes Streeting also criticised the party’s record on antisemitism, saying “I don’t think many Jewish voters in my constituency have been very impressed with the way the Labour party as a whole have responded”. Corbyn has in the past said that the party will not tolerate anti-Semitism in any form.[51] Streeting also said he did not believe Corbyn was antisemitic.[52]

In the Epilogue (pp. 273–280) to his 2017 book Contemporary Left Antisemitism, written after the 8 June 2017 general election, sociologist David Hirsh points out that Corbyn’s “antisemitic… politics” (275) “did not seem to be an issue” with voters, with the possible exception of four constituencies with significant Jewish populations,(277) and discusses the impact of the near win by a Labour Party led by man who has a “decades-long association with antisemitic politics” (274) who has “for his whole career, embraced or tolerated certain kinds of antisemitic.. politics,” (275) and “long been connected to antisemitic ways of thinking and antisemitic movements.”(279)[20]


During the 2017 Labour party conference, new rules were introduced to combat antisemitism or other “conduct prejudicial to the Party” by members. Some party activists made the accusation that Labour was policing “thought crime” and claimed that the rule was “an attempt to stifle criticism of Israel”. 98% of members supported the rules change.[53] Deputy leader Tom Watson promised there would be an investigation into how the party provided a platform at a conference fringe event to Miko Peled, who was reported as saying that people should be allowed to question whether the Holocaust happened.[54][55] Watson responded that “it is nothing to do with the official Labour party conference. And if there was Holocaust denial there, these people have no right to be in the Labour party, and if they are they should be expelled”.[56] Delegates at the fringe event demanded that the Jewish Labour Movement be expelled from the party over their support for the state of Israel.[57]

Public perceptions

Henry Bodkin wrote that according to a poll of 1,864 British Jewish adults carried out in 2017 an overwhelming majority of British Jews believed that the Labour Party was too tolerant of antisemitism. Of those surveyed for their opinion, 83% (in 2016 this was 87%) stated that racist sentiments were not adequately challenged by Labour members of parliament, members of the party, or Labour Party supporters. The poll was held for the group Campaign Against Antisemitism (who said of the poll “It is important to note that there is no evidence that parties’ supporters favour a soft approach to antisemitism. The failure to deal robustly with antisemitism is more likely to be a result of a failure to recognize and understand the many guises of modern antisemitism.”),[5] and followed increasing criticism of Corbyn’s attempts to fight anti-Jewish sentiment within the party.[58] A poll by The Jewish Chronicle prior to the 2017 found that just 13% of Jews intended to vote for Labour, and that when asked to rank the degree of “antisemitism among the political party’s members and elected representatives” between 1 (low) to 5 (high), Jews ranked Labour at 3.94, compared with 3.64 for UKIP, 2.7 for Liberal Democrates, and 1.96 for Conservatives.[4]

According to journalist Stephan Daisley, the Labour Party had previously been quick to take a stance against groups where racism, sexism, and homophobia had been tolerated. However, according to Daisley, antisemitism is now routine within the party, and that by its own definition, the party is now “institutionally anti-Semitic”.[59]

According to Jonathan Freedland, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn supported the pro-Palestinian group Deir Yassin Remembered, founded by Holocaust denier Paul Eisen, and had attended one of the group’s events. Corbyn also praised Raed Salah, in 2012, Salah had been found guilty of using the antisemitic trope of the blood libel in 2013.[60] In Freedland’s view, while under Corbyn the Labour party is increasing its membership, it is attracting those on the left who would previously have rejected the party, or would not have been accepted by it.[61]A party spokesman said, “Jeremy has spoken out against all forms of anti-Semitism and condemned Holocaust denial as vile and wrong.” Corbyn said he had been known to be in the denial of Holocaust, he would have had nothing to do with the group. [62]

In November 2017, leading UK authors Howard Jacobson , Simon Schama , and Simon Sebag Montefiore condemned Labor’s failure to address anti-semitism in a letter to The Timessaying, “We are alarmed that during the past few years, the criticism of the anti-Zionism”, further stating “Although anti-Zionists claim innocence of any anti-Semitic intent, anti-Zionism frequently borrows the libels of classical Jew-hating, “and adding” Accusations of international Jewish conspiracy and control of the media have resurfaced to support false equations of Zionism with colonialism and imperialism, and the promotion of vicious, fictitious parallels with genocide and Nazism “. [63] [64]

In December 2017, senior Israeli minister Gilad Erdan said that “We recognize and we see that there are antisemitic views in many of the leadership of the current labor party”. A Labor Party Spokesman said in response “Jeremy Corbyn and the Labor Party Against Anti-Semitism and Condemn All Forms of Anti-Semitism and the Labor Party Conference recently adopted new tough rules on anti-Semitism.” [65]

In a December 2017 Jewish Labor Movement Chanukah party, after Jeremy Corbyn said that the Labor Party has “zero tolerance” for antisemitism within the party, “Corbyn, you’re a liar”, and ” What about Ken? “She was eventually ejected from the event. [66] [67]

Alleged causes

Attracting Muslim voters

Selon Baroness Deech “Too many Labor politicians cravenly adopté the anti-Semitic tropes and anti-Israel demonization They think will get em British Muslim votes, Rather than standing up to the harm That exists in the community.” [68] According to anti-Semitism scholar Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, while not all of the most extreme anti-Semitic slurs were made by Muslim representatives of Labor, they represent a disproportionately large proportion of anti-Semitic perpetrators. According to Gerstenfeld, Labor’s anti-Semitic issues “demonstrate what happens when a party bends over backward to attract Muslim voters”. [69]


In September 2017 Len McCluskey said that the anti-Semitism was no more than an attempt to undermine Jeremy Corbyn by his political opponents saying “No, I’ve never recognized that.” I believe it was a music that was created by people who were trying to undermine Jeremy Corbyn “. He stated that in 47 years as a labor member he had never heard any antisemitic language at any meeting he had attended. Adding “Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership had become misogynist, had become racist, had become anti-Semitic and it was wrong”. [70]

In a piece for Channel 4 News , Georgina Lee pointed out that it is the only UK party that explicitly bans antisemitism by its members. [71]

In April 2016 the Jewish Socialists’ Groupput out a statement which expressed the view that anti-semitism accusations were being ‘weaponized’ in order to ‘attack the Jeremy Corbyn-led Labor party with claims that Labor has a’ problem ‘of antisemitism. It has been said that it does not matter how much it is used in other countries, and that it can be said that it can be used as an alternative to antisemitism. Further cases are simply those of the United States of America, which condemn Israeli government policy and aspects of Zionist ideology, and have nothing whatsoever to do with antisemitism. ” The statement summarized[72]

Richard Kuper, spokesman for the group Jews for Justice for Palestinians , “There is some anti-Semitism in the Labor Party – There is clearly a coordinated, willed and malign campaign to exaggerate the nature and extent of antisemitism as a stick to beat the labor party ” [73]

Momentum founder Jon Lansman said that he believes that anti-Semitism in the Conservative party is as widespread as the Labor Party. According to Lansman, anti-Semitism in the field of anti- Semitism, petty xenophobic remarks, old school blood libel type antisemitism, and anti-Semitism that arises from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. According to Lansman, the latter cause, Israeli-Palestinian conflict-related antisemitism, is the main source of anti-Semitism in the Labor Party. [74]

Survey evidence

A major study of contemporary antisemitism in the UK was published by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) in September 2017. The study found that these are more likely than average to hold antisemitic attitudes. to hold anti-Israel attitudes, especially those on the far-left.

The study stated that in general “levels of antisemitism in Great Britain are among the lowest in the world.” However, it is noted that among British adults a “relatively small group of about 5% of the general population can justifiably be described as antisemites: people who hold a wide range of negative attitudes towards Jews.” while a larger group of about 30% of the population has an attitude of antisemitic attitude. However, the study noted that this is not an average of the majority of the population of the United States. suggesting that the existence of an antisemitic or stereotypical belief in a person[75]

When discussing the link between political views and antisemitism, the study found that “Levels of antisemitism among those on the left wing of the political spectrum, including the far-left, are indistinguishable from those found in the general population. of those on the left of the political spectrum – including the ‘slightly left-wing’ and the ‘very left-wing’ – the higher antisemitic group “The presence of antisemitic attitudes in this group is 2 to 4 times higher compared to the general population.” Furthermore “A strong majority of the left-wing responders align themselves with the Labor Party”. [75]

There is little differentiation in the political spectrum in relation to the prevalence of antisemitic attitudes. However, in relation to anti-Israel attitudes, the very left-wing lead: 78% (75-82%) in this group endorse at least one anti-Israel attitude, in contrast to 56% in the general population, and 23% (19-26%) hold 6-9 attitudes, in contrast to 9% in the general population. Elevated levels of anti-Israel attitudes are also observed in other groups on the political left-of-the-left slightly left-of-center. The lowest level of anti-Israel attitudes are observed in the political center and among those who are just right-of-center or fairly right-wing. “The report however found that” …. anti-Israel attitudes are not, as a general rule, antisemitic; but the stronger person’s anti-Israel views, the more likely they are to hold antisemitic attitudes. A majority of those who hold anti-Israel attitudes do not espouse any antisemitic attitudes … “[76]


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