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Jewish Labour figure 'frustrated' with pace of action on antisemitism

Rhea Wolfson said some party members had crossed the line from legitimate Israel criticism to antisemitism

    Rhea Wolfson, who sits on the Labour Party National Executive Committee
    Rhea Wolfson, who sits on the Labour Party National Executive Committee

    A Jewish member of the Labour’s National Executive Committee has said she is frustrated with the speed with which the party responds to allegations of antisemitism.

    Rhea Wolfson, who is also an organiser for Momentum and a backer of Jeremy Corbyn, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that she expects the processing of complaints to speed up under the party’s new general secretary, Jennie Formby.

    In recent weeks Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, has been criticised by Jewish groups for alleged inaction on reports of antisemitism in the party. A protest in Parliament Square, called by the Jewish Leadership Council and the Board of Deputies, attracted more than 2,000 demonstrators.

    Ms Wolfson, 27, said: “Action has been taken. I am frustrated by the pace of action, as I know a lot of people are – there is a heck of a lot more that needs to be done – but things have happened.

    “There is very clearly a real issue, a huge piece of work that needs to be done in the Labour party, around modern antisemitism and giving people the tools to recognise when legitimate criticism of Israel crosses the line into antisemitism.”

    The previous day Stephen Pound, Labour MP for Ealing North, suggested allegations of antisemitism in the party were being used by opponents of Mr Corbyn to attack his leadership.

    Mr Pound, the shadow Northern Ireland minister, said: “I think the Labour party without a doubt has a problem, but on the other hand there are some people who are riding that horse to attack Jeremy Corbyn anyway.”

    Meanwhile Momentum, which was established to support Mr Corbyn after his election as Labour leader, warned its members that accusations of antisemitism are not “right-wing smears or conspiracy”.

    The statement, issued to members over the weekend, was agreed by the grassroot organisation’s governing body, according to the Guardian.

    It read: “(Momentum) acknowledges the anger, upset and despair within the British Jewish community at the numerous cases of antisemitism in the Labour party.

    “Current examples of antisemitism within the Labour party are not only a problem of a few, extreme ‘bad apples’, but also of unconscious bias, which manifests itself in varied, nuanced and subtle ways and is more widespread in the Labour party than many of us had understood even a few months ago.”

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