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Barnet Labour Party members defend Jeremy Corbyn over antisemitism

Members claim that condemnation of the party was an 'attempt to deflect criticism of Israel' motivated by Mr Corbyn's 'lifelong support for the rights of the Palestinians'

    Thirty-three Barnet Labour members have signed a letter defending Jeremy Corbyn (Photo: Getty Images)
    Thirty-three Barnet Labour members have signed a letter defending Jeremy Corbyn (Photo: Getty Images)

    Two of the 33 supposed signatories have now claimed that their names were added without consent. The JC is working to establish how many of the signatures are genuine.

    Thirty-three members of Barnet Labour Party have signed a letter attacking the “conflation of antisemitism and criticism of the actions of the state of Israel”, in a defence of the party’s record on antisemitism.

    The letter, sent to the JC, also claims that condemnation of the party was an “attempt to deflect criticism of Israel and Zionism”, and critics of its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, are motivated by an opposition to his “lifelong support for the rights of the Palestinians”.

     

    Mr Corbyn pledged to be an “ally in the fight against antisemitism” after 2,000 demonstrators gathered in Parliament Square a fortnight ago to protest against Labour’s record on antisemitism.

    A week later Mr Corbyn attended a Seder held by Jewdas, a left-wing anti-Zionist organisation of British Jews – a move which was attacked by mainstream communal bodies, including the Board of Deputies.

    The letter, signed by a number of Jewish Labour members, read: “We know antisemitism exists in society and needs to be combated, including in political parties. But we are seriously worried about the current climate in the Labour Party, where criticism of the actions of the state of Israel is too often conflated with antisemitism. But anti-Zionism does not equal antisemitism.

    “What we are now seeing is an attempt to deflect criticism of Israel and Zionism, thereby weakening genuine anti-racism and opposition to antisemitism. The real target of these critics is Jeremy Corbyn, because they oppose both his record of internationalism, in particular his lifelong support for the rights of the Palestinians, and his commitment to socialism. 

    “In the last two years, more than 300,000 people have joined the Labour Party to support its progressive politics. Not all of them will have much experience of, for example, recognising antisemitic tropes. We believe the best way to combat any such naivety, lack of knowledge or problematic choices of words among Labour’s membership is through open debate and discussion.

    “We therefore welcome the direction by Jeremy Corbyn to the new Labour general secretary, Jennie Formby, to at last implement the recommendations of the 2016 Shami Chakrabarti report about the party’s disciplinary procedures, based on natural justice and due process.”

    Ahead of next month’s council elections, Barry Rawlings, the leader of the Barnet Labour Party, wrote on the HuffPost UK website that Mr Corbyn’s "blind spot on antisemitism" risks losing “crucial Jewish support” in the borough.

    Barnet, in North-West London, is home to 54,000 Jews, according to the most recent census figures – or approximately one-fifth of the UK Jewish population.

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