Labour candidate under fire for antisemitic remarks

Lisa Forbes, who is running in Peterborough by-election, rejected the IHRA definition of antisemitism and endorsed a post that accused Theresa May of having a "Zionist Slave Master's agenda."

June 4, 2019 18:03
2 minute read.
Labour candidate under fire for antisemitic remarks

The leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, delivers a speech in Manchester, Britain, March 22, 2018.. (photo credit: REUTERS/PHIL NOBLE)

A Labour Party candidate for a seat in the British Parliament signed a letter opposing the definition of antisemitism formulated by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, the Jewish Chronicle reported on Monday.

The letter also stated that people should be able to "speak freely" about Israel's "system of apartheid and ongoing ethnic cleansing" in the same way that "Jewish members must be able to speak freely about the Holocaust."

Lisa Forbes, who is running in Thursday's Peterborough by-election, had already issued an apology on Sunday for endorsing a Facebook post that accused Theresa May of having a "Zionist Slave Masters agenda."

The IHRA definition of antisemitism has been adopted by several governments and institutions, including the UK's and Germany's.

Among the examples of antisemitic attitudes mentioned in the document are accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel than to the interests of their own nations and denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination. e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.

The London Jewish newspaper noted that signatories of the same letter rejecting the IHRA definition also included Elleane Green, who is suspended by Labour over her running of the Palestine Live Facebook group; Lesley Anne Perrin, who resigned from the Torbay Labour Party over posting Holocaust denial material online; Asa Winstanley, who called the Jewish Labour Movement an "Israeli embassy proxy"; and members of the Labour Against The Witch-hunt group.

On Sunday, following the revelations about Forbes' social media activity, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Jewish Leadership Council and the Community Security Trust issued a joint statement asking the Labour Party to disown Forbes.

"The revelation that Labour's Peterborough candidate Lisa Forbes liked a racist Facebook post accusing Theresa May of having a "Zionist Slave Masters agenda" as recently as April – and previously welcomed a post indulging the bizarre conspiracy theory that the Mossad and the CIA are behind Daesh – brings into question her suitability for public office," the statement read.

"We are fed up hearing that Labour opposes antisemitism while repeatedly hearing excuses that its members accidentally missed the racism that was staring them in the face," it added.

The episode occurred just a few days after the British Equality and Human Rights Commission, the country's equality watchdog, launched a formal investigation to determine whether Jeremy Corbyn's party has discriminated against, harassed or victimized people because they are Jewish.

The Peterborough by-election follows the removal of a Labour MP, Fiona Onasanya, who was expelled after her conviction for perverting the course of justice.

According to the Jewish Chronicle, the seat is expected to be closely contested.

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