Europe

Labour Party Refuses to Support Jewish MP Facing Deselection for Confronting Anti-Semitism

Luciana Berger, a prominent Jewish Labour MP, has been threatened with deselection by hard-left constituency members over her criticism of party leader Jeremy Corbyn and his failure to confront anti-Semitism, The BBC reported Friday.

One local member behind the no-confidence motion, Kenneth Campbell, called Berger a “disruptive Zionist.” Campbell previously linked the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States to Jews. In a post from 2017, he shared an article from AnonHQ, a conspiracy theory website, suggesting the falling of the Twin Towers was a “controlled explosion.”

Berger, who is the parliamentary chair of Jewish Labour Movement, faces two motions against her, which will be debated on February 17 in her constituency, Liverpool Wavertree. The motions charge that “Instead of fighting for a Labour government, our MP is continually using the media to criticise the man we all want to be prime minister.”

Berger has frequently been the target of anti-Semitic online abuse, and the climate within Labour is now so hostile that at the annual party conference in September, she required special police protection from violent anti-Semitic Labour members.

Responding to the no-confidence motions, the MP said she had made “no secret that, as a Jewish woman representing a city with a Jewish community, I have been deeply disturbed by the lack of response from Jeremy Corbyn as party leader and many in the wider leadership of the party to the anti-Semitism that stains our party”.

Berger added: “Nothing will deter me from exposing anti-Semitism wherever it festers, including in the Labour Party where it is being wilfully ignored.”

Meanwhile, Labour’s shadow chancellor and leading Corbyn ally, John McDonnell, told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme that, “It’s not a deselection… It’s an expression of views.” McDonnell said, “Luciana has been associated in the media with a break away party… the media have asked her to deny that and she hasn’t been clear on that.”

Holocaust Educational Trust chief executive Karen Pollock called it a “disgrace” that Mr. McDonnell was “demanding loyalty… rather than addressing the racism in your party.” Other Labour MPs have called his response “totally unacceptable.”

The action taken against Berger comes on the heels of instances where the Labour Party has taken it easy on or forgiven party members who were accused of anti-Semitism.

Earlier this week Labour MPs demanded that party leadership release data showing how it has dealt with party members accused of anti-Semitism.

Several MPs, including Dame Margaret Hodge, Ruth Smeeth, and Catherine McKinnell, charged that Corbyn ally, General Secretary Jenny Formby, had covered up the figures for complaints received by the party’s institutions over anti-Semitic abuse and threats.

The criticism of Formby comes on the heels of the decision to readmit ex-MP Jim Sheridan, who was suspended last year for writing on Facebook that he no longer had “respect and empathy” for British Jews because they were working to undermine Corbyn’s leadership, into the party.

In an op-ed published at The Tower last month, 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: LadyGeekTV / Flickr ]