UK Labour reinstates former MP suspended over antisemitism

In a Facebook post last year, Sheridan said that he had lost “respect and empathy” for the Jewish community in response to the continued antisemitic row that has been hounding the party in recent months.

January 27, 2019 18:49
4 minute read.
UK Labour reinstates former MP suspended over antisemitism

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


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The UK's Labour party has readmitted a former MP who was suspended over antisemitism.

Following his reinstatement, Jim Sheridan said his accusers had "overreacted," adding that they were also "misguided."

Sheridan is one of several Labour politicians and members who have been caught up in antisemitism allegations, which have plagued the party since Jeremy Corbyn’s appointment as leader.

In a Facebook post last year, Sheridan said that he had lost “respect and empathy” for the Jewish community in response to the continued antisemitic row that has been hounding the party in recent months.

"Today I was notified that my suspension from the Labour Party has been lifted with no further action to be taken by the party," he said in a statement released late on Friday. "Whilst I am delighted with this decision, I remain of the view that my accusers were misguided and overreacted to what was intended to highlight my personal frustration and criticism of those intent on undermining our leadership in Scotland and the UK.

"I would also like to reiterate my sincere apologies to the Jewish community whose historic struggle I have supported all my political life," he added.

The BBC quoted a UK Labour Party spokesman as saying that “the Labour Party takes all complaints of antisemitism extremely seriously and we are committed to challenging and campaigning against it in all its forms."

However, its leader Jeremy Corbyn has been embroiled in countless antisemitic and anti-Israel incidents.

In 2009, Corbyn called Hamas and Hezbollah his friends and said that Hamas was working to achieve peace and justice, he later apologized for calling them his "friends."

In 2010, Corbyn allegedly hosted a Holocaust Memorial Day meeting at which a Jewish survivor of Auschwitz, Hajo Meyer, who died in 2014, repeatedly made comparisons between Israeli policy and Nazism.

In August 2018, a video emerged of a speech Corbyn gave in 2013 where he ostensibly compared Israel’s control of the West Bank to the Nazi occupation of Europe during World War II.

In 2014, he laid a wreath at a cemetery in Tunisia where Palestinian terrorists who murdered Israeli athletes in Munich in 1972 are buried.

Last year, UK Labour was hit with a major storm over its reluctance adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism fully. Corbyn fought to add a clause that stated it would not be deemed antisemitic to describe Israel and/or the circumstances of Israel’s establishment as racist.

In the 1980s, Corbyn was also a staunch member of a group called the Labour Movement Campaign for Palestine.
The official platform of this group declared its “opposition to the Zionist state as racist, exclusive, expansionist and a direct agency of imperialism.”

The UK Labour Party also has a tumultuous relationship with the State of Israel with some of its members openly supporting anti-Israel sentiments and the BDS movement.

Gary Spedding, a British left-wing activist and member of the UK Labour Party, was detained at Ben-Gurion Airport and denied entry to Israel earlier this month.

According to a BBC report, in 2014, Spedding was previously banned from entering the country for five years by the Interior Ministry’s Population and Immigration Authority after he reportedly had "organized a violent protest" at Queens University, Belfast, in which an Israeli representative was attacked.

However, Spedding disputed. He said that following investigations, the university had made it clear he "was not involved in any violence."
At the time, he said he was told by authorities at the airport that his social media activity allegedly posed a "security threat."

After traveling to Israel again following the end of his five-year ban, Spedding tweeted that he was detained and interrogated for three hours before his entry into Israel was eventually denied. He boarded a flight back to the United Kingdom on Monday evening.

Spedding said his visit was “entirely legitimate and planned,” adding that he wrote to the Israel Embassy in the UK as well as to Ambassador to the UK Mark Regev before his trip.

He also claimed that he had invitations from civil society organizations and had planned to meet members of Knesset “regarding peace-building in Northern Ireland” and that he is not a member of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

“I wish to put on public record that I am not a member of the BDS movement and do not actively advocate for a boycott of Israel. I support the democratic right of others to boycott, but I do not participate myself,” Spedding said.

Spedding added that he had also called for Jim Sheridan to be "kicked out" of the UK Labour Party.

Zachary Keyser contributed to this report.

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