Union boss: Labour antisemitism row was created by Israel to hide 'atrocities'

Mark Serwotka argued that antisemitism in the party is 'a story that does not exist'


The general secretary of one of Britain’s largest trade unions has suggested Israel “created” the row over antisemitism in the Labour Party to hide its own “atrocities”.

Mark Serwotka, who leads the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), said he was “not a conspiracy theorist but”, and then argued that antisemitism in the party is “a story that does not exist” and hinted Israel had fuelled to deflect attention from its "atrocities".

A recording of Mr Serwotka’s remarks, made at a fringe event at this week’s Trades Union Congress (TUC) conference in Manchester, was published by the Independent on Friday.

He said: “In a year when dozens of Palestinians including children were gunned down – unarmed innocent civilians – by the Israeli military, in a year when the Americans are cutting off aid ... isn’t it a vile world when, instead of being on the front foot, denouncing these atrocities, demanding an independent and sovereign state for the Palestinian people, we have had a summer of asking ourselves whether leading Labour movement people are in any way antisemitic?

“Now I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but I'll tell you what - one of the best forms of trying to hide from the atrocities that you are committing is to go on the offensive and to actually create a story that does not exist for people on this platform, the trade union movement or, I have to say, for the leader of the Labour Party.”

A spokesman for the PCS echoed Mr Serwotka’s comments, saying: “We should not allow the issue of antisemitism to be used by people who are attempting to silence Palestinian voices as they legitimately struggle for their rights and a sovereign state.

“Mark spoke at a Palestine Solidarity Campaign fringe event at the TUC – an organisation PCS is affiliated to.

“He made the point at the start of the meeting that we need to oppose antisemitism in society and within the Labour movement.”

Mr Serwotka, who has been PCS general secretary since 2000, is a staunch ally of Jeremy Corbyn, and recently appeared alongside outspoken far-left MP Chris Williamson at a Momentum event in Kent, which was chaired by Jackie Walker, who is currently suspended from Labour over antisemitism allegations.

Marie van der Zyl, the president of the Board of Deputies, called for Mr Serwotka to apologise, accusing him of "demeaning his office by trading in conspiracy theories and stock antisemitic tropes".

She added: "The only reason Labour’s antisemitism crisis remains in the media is Labour’s failure to deal with it. PCS members should consider whether they want to be represented by such a man."

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive