London, October 29, 2020
The fact that a major political party in Britain was even referred to let alone investigated by the Equality and Human Rights Commission is a stain on the reputation of the UK Labour Party.
Jews have played a growing and central role in British life since arriving in England during the reign of William the Conqueror. They have contributed significantly to society, including leadership roles in the Labour Party. So it is a cruel irony that no-one has done more to enable Antisemitism and empower anti-Jewish extremists in the UK than the Labour party under Jeremy Corbyn. In recent years, Jews suffered persistent abuse at the hands of Labour officials across the party and that effective action was not taken to stop it – on the contrary, a toxic atmosphere of institutional Jew-hatred had been allowed to foment and grow and this has permeated thinking within wider British culture.
Following the publication of the EHRC report, it is time for action.
“This is an important moment”, stated StandWithUs UK Executive Director Sara Sherrard, “as the new Labour leader, Keir Starmer, has been unequivocal in his statements about rooting out antisemitism from the modern Labour party. However, deeds will speak louder than words and decisive action based on the full IHRA definition of antisemitism is vital. Ordinary, decent British people of all stripes, together with others around the world, are watching to make sure this takes place and only with full transparency and accountability can change really take shape.”
The Labour Party has also – historically – had a close relationship with the world’s only Jewish country, Israel. Labour leaders from Attlee to Wilson, Foot to Kinnock, Blair and Brown, have been firm friends of the State of Israel. Jeremy Corbyn upended this tradition via his deep-seated hatred for Israel and his affinity for the Iranian regime - he was employed by them at Iranian-state controlled “Press TV” - as well as to Hamas and Hizbollah terrorist groups whom he called “his friends” and whose stated aim is the destruction of Israel. It is time to rebuild and grow the historic links between UK Labour and Israel, a democratic ally in the Middle East, and to reject attempts to demonize Zionism as ‘racist’ when in reality Zionism, the aspiration for Jewish self-determination in their homeland, is the opposite of racism.
StandWithUs UK Chair, Loretta Cash commented: “Inasmuch as Corbyn brought about a resurgence in antisemitic words and deeds, Britain’s Jews spoke up, and people of conscience have stood with them. Despite bullying, intimidation and physical threats, ordinary people and well-known personalities alike – heroes, all – shone a light on the rot in Corbyn’s party and stood with Britain’s Jewish-minority community. We thank them for their continued solidarity.”
Sara Sherrard continued: “We are now in a post-Corbyn era but it will take many years to undo what has been done as he was relentless in pushing out Jewish MPs and moderate voices within Labour and in giving a platform to those who engaged in the most egregious forms of Antisemitism. Antisemites will continue to deflect in every which way, using their hatred of Israel as a shield, and will minimise Antisemitism as if it were a lesser form of racism than any other. In the aftermath of the electoral defeat of Jeremy Corbyn, we must not drop our guard nor lose the solidarity we have forged in standing against this pernicious evil.”
Brave people have raised their voices against hatred. Eighty years on from the Battle of Cable Street, when Jews and non-Jews stood arm-in-arm against the fascists, people of good conscience are standing up and making themselves heard, saying once again – this time to the Antisemites of today: “They Shall Not Pass.”
About StandWithUs StandWithUs (SWU) is an international, non-profit and non-partisan Israel education organization that works to inspire and educate people of all ages about Israel, as well as challenge misinformation and fight against antisemitism. Through university fellowships, high school internships, middle school curricula, conferences, materials, social media, educational films and missions to Israel, StandWithUs supports people around the world who want to educate their schools and communities about Israel. Founded in 2001 and headquartered in Los Angeles, the organization has chapters and programs on 5 continents, including the U.S., Israel, UK, Canada, South Africa and Brazil. For the last 7 years, SWU has consistently received the highest possible ratings from Charity Navigator (4 stars) and Guidestar (Platinum). www.standwithus.com and www.facebook.com/standwithus and www.twitter.com/standwithus