UK Labor leader announces new initiatives to curb anti-Semitism within party

The Labor leader also announced the launching of an inquiry into racism and anti-Semitism within the party.

April 30, 2016 01:53
2 minute read.
Labour MK Jeremy Corbyn

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Head of the UK Labor party Jeremy Corbyn announced Friday evening new plans to tackle anti-Semitism within the ranks of his faction following the suspension of two prominent members, according to Sky News.

Corbyn said that the new proposals he is drafting will make it "explicitly clear for the first time" that the party will not tolerate any kind of racism, including anti-Semitism, among its party members.

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"Labor is an anti-racist party to its core and has a long and proud history of standing against racism, including anti-Semitism," said Corbyn

"We have taken decisive action over allegations of anti-Semitism since I became  leader, suspending all those involved from membership, and have set up an inquiry under Baroness Royall into reports of anti-Semitism in the Oxford University Labor club and elsewhere."

"There is no place for anti-Semitism or any form of racism in the Labor party, or anywhere in society, and we will make sure that our party is a welcoming home to members of all communities," he added.

The Labor leader also announced the launching of an inquiry into racism and anti-Semitism within the party. The inquiry aims to devise a "statement of principles and guidance" following consultations with the Jewish community and other minority groups.

The moves come following a tumultuous week for the lead opposition group in the English parliament, with the suspension of former mayor of London Ken Livingstone on Thursday and Bradford MP Naz Shah the day before, Sky News noted.

In a radio interview with the BBC on Thursday, Livingstone said, “Let’s remember when Hitler won his election in 1932 his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism.”

He made the remarks in defense of Labor lawmaker Naz Shah, who was suspended a day earlier over a Facebook post in 2014 suggesting Israelis should be moved en masse to the United States. She apologized on Tuesday, a day after the remarks came to light.

Asked during the interview whether he regarded her statement as anti-Semitic, Livingstone said: “No, it’s completely over the top but it’s not anti-Semitic.” The ex-mayor also said there was a “well-orchestrated campaign by the Israel lobby to smear anybody who criticized Israeli policy as anti-Semitic.”

Livingstone’s remarks come at a sensitive time for Labor, which in recent months has seen the suspension of several members, including at the senior level, for anti-Semitic hate speech that critics say party leader Jeremy Corbyn is not doing enough to curb.

Corbyn, a harsh critic of Israel who in 2009 called Hezbollah and Hamas activists “friends” after inviting representatives from both terrorist groups to visit the British Parliament as his guests, is also accused of encouraging vitriol against Israel and Jews by not distancing himself from groups such as Hamas.

JTA contributed to this report.

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