Labour must urgently address 'corrosive' anti-Semitism, MP tells Commons
Labour must urgently address 'corrosive' anti-Semitism, MP tells Commons
RED BOX | COMMENTApril 17 2018 12:00am The Times The antisemitism debate is not about partisanship — it’s about freedom Mike Freer
18 April, 2018, 22:48
Bassetlaw MP John Mann told the Commons the campaign group Momentum had targeted him for showing solidarity with Jewish Labour members - with his wife threatened with rape by a leftist anti-Semite.
Following his attendance at the March 26 demonstration against antisemitism outside the British parliament, the harassment continued, Mann said.
"And yes, as I've said outside this place in Parliament Square, and it pains me to say this proudly as the chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, in 2018 within the Labour Party anti-Semitism is more commonplace, is more conspicuous and is more corrosive".
Other MPs who spoke during an often emotional and angry debate included Jewish Labour parliamentarians Luciana Berger, Ruth Smeeth and Margaret Hodge - all of whom spoke powerfully about being on the receiving end of torrents of antisemitic abuse, often from members of the Labour Party.
In her speech, Ms Smeeth read out abuse before saying: "I stand here today to say that we will not be bullied out of political engagement, we are going nowhere and we stand and will keep fighting until the evils of anti-Semitism have been removed from our society".
The most powerful testimony in the special debate came from Labour MP Ruth Smeeth who received a standing ovation after reading the anti-Semitic abuse she has received from Corbyn supporters.
Berger revealed she had suffered almost two decades of abuse and received her first piece of hate mail aged just 19, which described her as a "dirty Zionist pig".
Ms Smeeth, reading a small sample of the abuse she had received, said: "My fan base has shown scant regard for appropriate parliamentary language so I apologise in advance, "hang yourself you vile treacherous Zionist Tory filth, you're a cancer of humanity", "Ruth Smeeth is a Zionist she has no shame and trades on the murder of Jews by Hitler who the Zionists betrayed", "Ruth Smeeth must surely be travelling first class to Tel Aviv with all that slush, after all she's complicit in trying to bring Corbyn down". You wanted to weep when you heard what they had had to endure. "Antisemitism is making me an outsider in my Labour party. To that, I simply say, 'enough is enough'".
Scheduled by the ruling Conservative Party, Tuesday's debate was opened by Communities Minister Sajid Javid, who told Corbyn "it won't perhaps be the most comfortable three hours ... that he has sat in on".
Labour's Shadow Communities Secretary Andrew Gwynne responded to the speakers, admitting that the party "needed to be better" at tackling antisemitism but rejecting calls made by some MPs for party veteran Ken Livingstone and several other members to be ejected from its ranks. "Livingstone must be booted out".
Speaking during a general debate on anti-Semitism in the Commons, Ms Berger's impassioned words received support from the across the chamber.
Prominent Jewish organizations, including the Board of Deputies, the Jewish Leadership Council and Community Security Trust have declined an invitation to participate in a round-table event with Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn next Wednesday.
"After we have had our meeting with Mr Corbyn on April 24, we will see whether he and the Labour Party have committed to the action we need against antisemitism", said the groups in a joint statement issued Tuesday.
Earlier this month, British Jewish groups protested against Corbyn, accusing the leader, a supporter of Palestinian rights and a critic of Israel, of failing to tackle anti-Semitism because of a far-left world view hostile to Jews.
The action came days after junior doctors wrapped up a month-long walkout over pay and working conditions, which ended on April 2. The Zimbabwean government has fired thousands of striking nurses in a move criticised as unconstitutional.
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