Labour readmits member who said party is too apologetic on antisemitism

Williamson said earlier this year that when it comes to Labour’s antisemitism problem, its deniers “have backed off too much, we have given too much ground, we have been too apologetic.”

By CNAAN LIPHSHIZ/JTA
June 27, 2019 05:28
1 minute read.
Official portrait of Chris Williamson

Official portrait of Chris Williamson. (photo credit: CHRIS MCANDREW/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

 
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‏(JTA) — A key ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn who was suspended from the British party for sayings it is “too apologetic” over antisemitism has been readmitted.

A party ethics panel warned lawmaker Chris Williamson on Wednesday for saying earlier this year that when it comes to Labour’s antisemitism problem, its deniers “have backed off too much, we have given too much ground, we have been too apologetic.” Labour suspended Williamson in February pending an ethics review.



The remark was another twist in a three-year saga over the proliferation of antisemitic hate speech in Labour’s ranks and internal splits on whether to address the problem.



Labour is being investigated by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, a government watchdog, for thousands of cases of anti-Semitic hate speech in its ranks since 2015.



The Board of Deputies of British Jews said the suspension was “the right move, if long overdue.” Its vice president, Amanda Bowman, called the reinstatement an “utter disgrace” and “yet more damning evidence” for the rights commission inquiry.



Since his election in 2015 to head Labour, Corbyn has fought allegations that his critical attitude toward Israel and alleged tolerance of antisemitism have injected Jew-hatred into the heart of the party.



On Tuesday, The Times of London demonstrated how Twitter accounts advocating for Corbyn shared the same backstory presenting the authors as descended from Holocaust survivors.



In 2009, Corbyn called Hamas and Hezbollah his friends and said that Hamas is working to achieve peace and justice. In 2013, he defended an anti-Semitic mural. In 2014, he laid flowers on the graves of Palestinian terrorists who murdered Israeli athletes in Munich in 1972. The following year he said British “Zionists” don’t understand British irony.



Williamson in February month booked a room in Parliament for a screening of a film by activist Jackie Walker titled “Witch Hunt” about her suspension from Labour over antisemitism.



Earlier that month, nine lawmakers quit the party, criticizing the leadership’s handling of antisemitism. One of them, Luciana Berger, tweeted in response to Williamson’s words, saying “This is what I have left behind. It’s toxic.”

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