Labour's Pete Willsman suspended after ranting the 'Israeli embassy' is manufacturing party's antisemitism crisis

Senior party figure said 'off the record' that it is 'almost certain' it is 'behind all this antisemitism against Jeremy'


Pete Willsman, the senior Labour figure whose rant about Jewish "Trump fanatics was exposed by the JC, has been suspended from the party after he was recorded claiming the party's antisemitism crisis is being manufactured by Israel.

Mr Willsman, who was re-elected to Labour's National Executive Committee (NEC) despite his previous rant at one of its meetings last year, said the open letter attacking Labour antisemitism, signed by 68 rabbis across the community, was "obviously organised by the Israeli embassy".

LBC published the recording, in which he also said Labour staffers were working "indirectly" for the embassy.

"The rich control the papers. The rich control everything else and they know he's [Corbyn] going to make them pay taxes," Mr Willsman says.

"One of the things about antisemitsm is that they're using that to whip people up. They use anything. It's all total lies."

He then says "off the record" that: "It's almost certain who is behind all this antisemitism against Jeremy. Almost certainly it was the Israeli embassy.

"They caught somebody in the Labour Party. It turns out they were an agent in the Israeli Embassy. My guess would be, they are the ones whipping it all up."

He was recorded by Israeli-American author Tuvia Tenenbom after a chance encounter in Oxford.

After outrage on Friday morning, a Labour spokesperon said: "Peter Willsman has been suspended from the Labour Party, pending investigation.”

The suspension means he cannot attend NEC meetings.

Reform Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, one of the 68 rabbis who signed last year's open letter, said she was "disgusted" Mr Willsman "would again push antisemitic conspiracy theories".

She added she expected "immediate action" from the party.

Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl said Mr Willsman - "a man who should have been suspended for anti-Jewish statements last year" – should be expelled by Labour.

She said: "He has not only denied antisemitism in the Labour Party but has resorted to a well-known antisemitic trope to make his point...

"We call on the Leader, Jeremy Corbyn and General Secretary, Jennie Formby, who were present at Mr Willsman’s first outburst and who have repeatedly indulged his bigotry, to ensure he is expelled with the speed and efficiency we have seen in other recent disciplinary cases.”

Ruth Smeeth, Labour MP and parliamentary chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, said Mr Willsman "shouldn't be in the Labour Party, never mind a member of our ruling body".

"He should be removed from the NEC. Appalling views like this are precisely why the EHRC are investigating the Labour Party for anti-Jewish hate"

JLM chair Mike Katz said the recording showed last year's rant was "not an aberration but part of a consistent pattern of conspiratorial left-wing anti-Jewish racism".

Labour MP Wes Streeting immediately called for Mr Willsman to resign from the NEC.

He said: "Is it any wonder that the Labour Party is under investigation by the EHRC? His views have been known and tolerated by those at the top of the party for too long."

Mr Willsman was re-elected to the NEC last September, despite leftwing pressure group Momentum dropping him as a candidate after his "Trump fanatics" rant was exposed in July last year.

In that rant, Mr Willsman railed before an NEC meeting as it debated whether to adopt the IHRA definition of Jew-hate in full, something that became the focus of a huge row ovet the summer.

"ome of these people in the Jewish community support Trump – they are Trump fanatics and all the rest of it," he said.

"I am not going to be lectured to by Trump fanatics making up duff information without any evidence at all.

“So I think we should ask the 70 rabbis where is your evidence of severe and widespread antisemitism in this Party?’”

Before the JC published the recording of the rant, he escaped punishment for it by apologising to party General Secretary Jennie Formby.

Jeremy Corbyn was present in the room during Mr Willsman's rant but did nothing.

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