Labour MP Chris Williamson accuses Sheffield University Jewish Society of 'hateful smears' over antisemitism

Jsoc president responds: 'The only reason a JSoc would ever speak out is if the safety of the people they represent was at risk'


Labour MP Chris Williamson, who has been accused of "apologism" for antisemitism within the party, has attacked a university's Jewish Society for "hateful smears" against him for opposing his invitation to speak.

The MP said the University of Sheffield's Jsoc were “opponents of common sense socialism” after Labour members there decided to “indefinitely postpone” an event hosting him.

Sheffield Labour Students (SLS) postponed the event earlier this month after the co-chair of the university's Jsoc quit Labour following the invite to the pro-Corbyn MP to speak alongside the Stop the War group about Saudi Arabia’s involvement in Yemen.

The Jsoc said Mr Williamson "encouraged a culture of antisemitism" and said the invitiation was "a betrayal of Jewish students in Sheffield and the Jewish community as a whole".

But, in an article in the leftwing Labour Briefing, Mr Williamson has claimed he was the victim of “a hateful smear campaign... which included smearing me with false accusation of antisemitism”.

He said Jsoc were “haters,” who “didn’t bargain for the strength of solidarity, and an alternative venue was found at short notice”.

He said that, despite not being hosted by SLS, that a “successful meeting took place, which was addressed by myself and Steven Bell from Stop the War.”

Mr Williamson said: “We all need to remember that as we get closer to a General Election the smears, insults and intimidation will only increase.

“But this episode perfectly illustrates the importance of the old Labour movement maxim that unity it strength. If we stand together we shall overcome.”

Sheffield University Jsoc president Gabe Milne shared a screenshot of the article, which was headlined "Unity Is Strength" on Twitter.

He wrote: "For the 10,000th time: We never said Chris Williamson was antisemitic. Not once. We said he encourages a culture of antisemitism, which is clear to everyone except the disgraceful people that continue to support him.

"I just don't get it. Do these people think we would stick our head above the parapet like this willingly? The only reason a JSoc would ever speak out like this is if the safety of the people they represent was at risk. And we're being treated with utter contempt."

Earlier this year, Mr Williamson defended former Labour member Scott Nelson, who was expelled from the party after tweeting about “Jewish companies” with “Jewish blood…exploiting workers abroad”.

After initially denying that Mr Nelson had made such comments, describing them as “smears” but then said Mr Nelson “repeatedly apologised for those comments. He is opposed to all forms of racism and bigotry… please give him a chance.”

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