In an explosive development, Britain’s Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) announced Thursday that it had begun proceedings against the Labour Party over its failure to stamp out anti-Semitism in its ranks.
The equality watchdog said it has reason to believe that Labour has “unlawfully discriminated against people because of their ethnicity and religious beliefs” over the party’s handling of anti-Semitism complaints. The independent body was founded by a Labour government in 2006.
“The party of today is a far cry from Tony Blair’s Labour, which enjoyed intimate and friendly relations with the Jewish community,” wrote TIP Senior Fellow Julie Lenarz in a comment piece for The Daily Telegraph. “In the era of Jeremy Corbyn and his hard-Left ideologues, a once proud anti-racist party has turned into a powerhouse of anti-Jewish extremists.”
The EHRC’s announcement followed legal complaints made last year by the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) and the Jewish Labour Movement. “Since the Holocaust, Britain has led the world in promoting human rights, and it could scarcely be more important to British society that the Jew-hatred festering in the Labour Party is firmly brought to an end,” CAA said in a statement.
The watchdog has only rarely taken action against political parties, but in this instance, Lenarz said, it was a “necessity.”
“I’m not mincing words here. The election of Jeremy Corbyn was a catastrophe – for Labour; the country; and the Jewish community, especially,” Lenarz wrote in The Telegraph. “I am of the strong belief that Corbyn harbours anti-Semitic views. And unlike some who see him as a misguided old man, I think Corbyn knows exactly what he’s doing. This is a serious charge, but the evidence has been lining up.”
According to Lenarz, “The Labour leadership – everyone from Corbyn to Jennie Formby and the party’s National Executive Committee – has proven unwilling to eradicate the cancer of anti-Semitism that has spread through the skeleton of Labour like a raging wildfire.”
A Labour spokesperson said: “We completely reject any suggestion the party has acted unlawfully (…) Labour is fully committed to the support, defence and celebration of the Jewish community and its organisations.”
Lenarz remarked this response was to be expected. “Instead of cooperating sincerely with the EHRC investigation, they will likely hide behind a barrage of denial and refusal to admit any blame,” she observed. “After all, that’s the only consistent element in Labour’s handling of the anti-Semitism crisis – blame the victims, silence their supporters, and protect the perpetrators.”
She concluded that, as of now, it’s unclear if the EHRC investigation will lead to more resignations from Labour or force the party to act. “One thing is certain, however,” Lenarz said, “we are witnessing the battle over the soul of the Labour Party, and only one side will come out alive.”
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