Labour MP Luciana Berger warns party's 'disgusting' antisemitism is 'going unchecked'

'Where is the zero tolerance we were promised?'


Luciana Berger has spoken of the "disgusting" and "unchecked" antisemitism still found in the Labour Party - pointedly asking:"Where is the zero tolerance we were promised?"

In a speech praising the now "more important" than ever work of the Yad Vashem Foundation, the Liverpool Wavertree MP attacked Labour's disciplinary machine under general secretary Jennie Formby.

Speaking at the Yad Vashem UK Foundation dinner in central London on Thursday evening, she said: "I’ve been thoroughly ashamed, angered and appalled by the rise of antisemitism inside the Labour Party."

Ms Berger, one of the party's most prominent Jewish MPs, was speaking after a week in which a number of high profile cases of alleged antisemitism were dropped by Labour.

"It’s disgusting, and increasingly it’s going unchecked. I’ve been calling for faster justice for the victims of Labour antisemitism, and for the perpetrators to be dealt with," she said.

"Where is the ‘zero tolerance’ we were promised? 

"Some of those accused of antisemitism are merely reminded of the [party's] code of conduct before being allowed to carry on as members of the Labour Party.

"Let’s be clear, I don’t want peddlers of anti-Jewish hate to be given a stern warning or sent on a training course – I want them expelled from the Labour Party." 

Ms Berger - parliamentary chair of the Jewish Labour Movement - also appeared to suggest she would put her job on the line to carry on the fight against rising Jew-hatred.

She said: "There are plenty of us who are willing to stand up to antisemitism, stand up to prejudice and discrimination, stand up and be counted. 


"This may come at a personal cost. It may come at the expense of our jobs. It may come at the expense of our mental wellbeing.

"But the lesson of history is that we cannot be bystanders, we cannot hide our eyes or look the other way or pretend that we don’t know what is going on.

"We cannot be cowed by the threats from the far-right, or change our behaviour in the hope of appeasing them. 

"Surely history has taught us the dangers of feeding the crocodile in the hope it will eat you last."

Ms Berger warned guests, including Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, Holocaust Educational Trust chief executive Karen Pollock and Israel's ambassador to Britain Mark Regev of the "pernicious lie" that is Holocaust denial.

She said: "People who say it is a hoax, or an exaggeration, or just a facet of warfare, no better or worse than atrocities in other conflicts.

"Or worst of all, people who say the Holocaust is exploited in order to promote the existence of Israel. 

"Holocaust denial is a pernicious lie. It dishonours the six million Jews murdered, and the millions of other victims of the Nazis.

"It perpetuates the antisemitic tropes that Jews are engaged in manipulation of events for their own advantage.

"It denies historical evidence and facts, and thus represents the triumph of falsehood over truth.

"And it feeds the terrible climate of conspiracy theory and ‘fake news’ that infects our public discourse."

She described her own family history "where on my mother’s side alone over 100 members aged between four and 83 perished in the Holocaust".

"Never forget what we are up against," she added.


She also warned of the danger of politicians who encourage conspiracy theories. She said: "The master is Donald Trump, of course, but you can see the same approaches in the Freedom Party in Austria, Viktor Orban in Hungary, Lega in Italy, and UKIP and the grouping around so-called Tommy Robinson in the United Kingdom. 

"What worries me greatly is the mainstreaming of conspiracy theories. What was once the preserve of the extremes, of left and right, has been brought into the mainstream via social media.

"That vile antisemite David Icke can fill provincial theatres across the UK. Elected politicians can offer nudge nudge hints on their social media."

She added: "As a Jewish MP, I am subject to ceaseless antisemitic attacks online, endless emails and posts on Twitter, mailbags filled with unhinged accusations.

"It is statement of fact that Jewish women MPs are singled out for this kind of abuse. "

Lord Pickles, the Government's Special Envoy for Post-Holocaust issues, delivered an impassioned tribute to Ms Berger - despite her Labour Party background - saying from the start of her political career he had thought:"Damn, she's pretty good."

Stressing his own family's historic Labour background which had left him the "blacksheep," the Conservative Peer said of guest of honour Ms Berger: "I'm pretty sure someone of her talent could earn a lot more money, have a much easier life, should she decide to retire from public life.

"But she has shown true grit, she has been prepared to take on the bigots, the liers, the deceitful nature of antisemitism.

"I'm very proud to have her a member of our House of Commons.... I wish you every success." 

A bronze bust of Shoah survivor and Yad Vashem UK President Sir Ben Helfgott was also unveiled.

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