(JTA) – Leaders of Britain’s Labour Party shielded members from accusations of antisemitism, the BBC reported.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn repeatedly interfered in disciplinary cases, several Labour whistleblowers told the makers of the BBC program titled “Is Labour antisemitic?” which aired July 10. Thousands of hate speech complaints led to only 15 expulsions, the flagship investigative television program “Panorama” reported.
The findings appear to confirm allegations earlier this year that made Labour the subject of an official probe by the United Kingdom’s watchdog on racism.
Labour denied that Corbyn’s team had intervened in disciplinary cases, saying the claims had been made by “disaffected former officials…who have always opposed Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.” The party accused the BBC of having “engaged in deliberate and malicious representations designed to mislead the public,” The Independent reported.
If the allegations of interference are correct, they mean that Corbyn’s team has compromised Labour’s internal processes and ethics committee. That would strengthen the case for external action by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which began its probe of Labour earlier this year. This could weaken the position of Corbyn, who is under growing pressure by critics from his own party.
Corbyn was personally copied into emails in which Jennie Formby, the party’s general secretary, appeared to promise to interfere in a case involving an activist who had claimed Jews were responsible for the slave trade, according to the BBC. In another case, Seumas Milne, Corbyn’s director of communications, told party staff they were “muddling up political disputes with racism” and said Labour needed to “review where and how we’re drawing the line.”
The reputation of the Labour Party “has been shredded by a Hard Left establishment that has proven apparently incapable of addressing the endemic racism within. Their reign must be quickly and efficiently ended,” Labour Against Antisemitism, an internal party group, wrote in a statement following the airing of the show.
The Board of Deputies of British Jews in a statement wrote that Corbyn and his allies “are personally responsible for having turned a once-great, anti-racist party into a cesspit of antisemitism.”
The Campaign Against Antisemitism, a nonprofit, also criticized the party. “The charade of Jeremy Corbyn as an anti-racist activist has been blown apart. Mr Corbyn’s support for antisemites and his team’s protection of antisemites demonstrate that Mr. Corbyn himself is an antisemite who is unfit to hold any public office,” its chief executive, Gideon Falter, wrote.
On July 9, three lawmakers from Labour, two of them Jewish, resigned from the party over its antisemitism problem, prompting speculation that the timing was connected to the anticipated exposé.
One of the three, Leslie Arnold Turnberg, said Corbyn and “his circle are antisemitic, having never once made the right judgement call about an issue reflecting deep prejudice,” Turnberg wrote. Antisemites were “shielded,” while “serious party members are thrown out unceremoniously,” he said. “The experience of life in the party has become sickening.”
Corbyn’s supporters have dismissed the charges and allegations, and said that Corbyn’s criticism of Israel is unfairly treated as antisemitic.
In 2009, Corbyn called Hezbollah and Hamas his friends, adding that the Hamas is “an organization that is dedicated towards the good of the Palestinian people and bringing about peace and social justice.”
But his critics allege that Corbyn had dabbled in classic antisemitism independent of Israel, as in his 2013 defense of a London mural showing Jewish bankers playing Monopoly on the backs of dark-skinned men. He said he had failed to notice the antisemitic message when he endorsed the controversial painting.