The controversy over Ken Livingstone’s comments about Zionism and Adolf Hitler placed the issue of antisemitism into the national spotlight to such a degree that there has been “no comparable situation in recent years” , a new report by the Community Security Trust has concluded.
The CST’s Antisemitic Discourse Report 2016 details how Mr Livingstone’s radio interview in which he spoke of Hitler “supporting Zionism” was the centre of the huge media storm surrounding antisemitism around himself and the Labour Party.
The report, which examines national media coverage of antisemitism, suggested the former Mayor of London’s repeated statements on the issue; “typified the accusations of those who, despite all the evidence to the contrary continued to deny there can be any such thing as antisemitism in left-wing circles.”
It also argued that Mr Livingstone’s attempt to claim he was the subject of a well-orchestrated smear campaign by the Israel lobby “risks British Jews being regarded as willing agents and tools of Israel, rather than normal people who genuinely care about the problem of antisemitism”.
The document also looks at the clear link between some anti-Zionist activity and antisemitism.
Other controversies in which antisemitism became a major national media issue included the suspension of Naz Shah MP from Labour, the Shami Chakrabarti report into antisemitism in the Labour Party, the Oxford University Labour Club enquiry and Jeremy Corbyn’s brother Piers speaking alongside a known Holocaust denier.
The report says the Labour Party was not alone in having to address issues of antisemitism in 2016.
The Lib Dems suspension of Baroness Jenny Tonge over “Jewish power” tropes and her eventually departure from the party also made the national media – as did the suspension of Bradford Conservative Association deputy chair Abdul Zaman who was said to have made offensive comments about Jews and about women while speaking in the Mirpuri dialect.