The British Labour Party has been slammed for readmitting an official a day before Holocaust Remembrance Day, who was suspended last year for writing on social media that he no longer had “respect and empathy for the Jewish community,” The Jewish Chronicle reported on Sunday.
Jim Sheridan, who represented the constituency of Paisley and Renfrewshire North until losing his seat in 2015 and is now a Labour councillor, was suspended in August for writing in a Facebook post that he lost “respect and empathy for the Jewish community and their historic suffering… due to what they and their Blairite plotters are doing to my party,” a reference to Labour’s former prime minister Tony Blair, a strong supporter of Israel.
On Saturday – the day before Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27 – Sheridan announced that the party has lifted his suspension. “Whilst I am delighted with this decision, I remain of the view that my accusers were misguided and overreacted to what was intended to highlight my personal frustration and criticism of those intent on undermining our leadership in Scotland and the UK,” Sheridan told the BBC.
“I would also like to reiterate my sincere apologies to the Jewish community whose historic struggle I have supported all my political life,” he charged.
The decision provoked fury among Labour MPs. Luciana Berger, a main target of anti-Semitic sentiments in the Labour Party who required special protection at her own party conference last year, called Sheridan’s readmission “so hurtful” and added: “There couldn’t be a more insensitive time for this suspension to lift.”
The decision was announced the same day Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn shared a photo of himself on social media signing the Holocaust Educational Trust’s book of commitment, saying: “Let us never allow antisemitism or any other form of racism to disfigure our society.”
A Labour spokesman said: “The Labour Party takes all complaints of antisemitism extremely seriously and we are committed to challenging and campaigning against it in all its forms.
“All complaints about antisemitism are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken.”
In an op-ed published at The Tower on Monday, Julie Lenarz, Senior Fellow at The Israel Project, wrote that Sheridan’s reinstatement was an example of “one anti-Semitic scandal after another” plaguing the Labour Party. Of the party’s leader she wrote, “Jeremy Corbyn is fooling no one. He is no friend of the Jewish people.”
[Photo: R0BERTABR00KS / YouTube ]