Labour UK chief Jeremy Corbyn faces a new wave of criticism after whitewashing the problem of anti-Semitism within his party and opposing the suspension of an MP who called for Israel to be ethnically cleansed.
On Wednesday, Naz Shah, a Labour MP representing Bradford West, was suspended following revelations that she had previously called for Jews to be removed en masse from Israel. Shah also made comments comparing the Jewish state to Nazi Germany.
Corbyn initially refused to issue any punitive actions against Shah, and party officials reportedly whitewashed an apology written by Shah, excising all references to anti-Semitism.
The latest chapter in the ongoing anti-Semitism scandal within the Labour Party took place Thursday morning, when a spokesman for the embattled Labour leader fielded questions from reporters.
Remarkably, when asked whether Mr. Corbyn considered Shah anti-Semitic given her comments, Corbyn’s spokesman replied with an apparent denial. The spokesman went on to apparently absolve Shah of responsibility for her own comments, referring to them as remarks that she herself does not agree with.
“We’re not suggesting she’s anti-Semitic. We’re saying she’s made remarks that she doesn’t agree with.”
Notably, Corbyn, who opposed Shah’s suspension, only relented after intense pressure from within the party. Corbyn finally accented to the move after a meeting with Labour Party General Secretary, Ian McNicol, who berated Corbyn for defending Shah.
If that was not enough, however, when the suspension was finally announced, any reference or implication of punishment was stripped from the press release. Instead, the announcement stated that Corbyn and Shah had “mutually agreed” that McNicol, the General Secretary was suspending the MP.
“Jeremy Corbyn and Naz Shah have mutually agreed that she is administratively suspended from the Labour Party by the general secretary.”
Corbyn’s handling of the Shah scandal has led many to question his leadership of the party. Marcus Dysch, an editor at the Jewish Chronicle, excoriated Corbyn, calling his handling of the Shah affair as “pathetic” and “utterly shameful”, suggesting that Labour had become the official party of “Jew hate” for 2016.
At least one prominent Labour donor has said he is cutting ties with the party following the Shah debacle. David Abrahams, who gave roughly $1 million to Labour said the party was not taking the problem of anti-Semitism seriously.
Prime Minister David Cameron ridiculed the Labour Party for its failure to crack down on anti-Semitism, reminding party leaders of the pledge by Labor Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell to deal forcefully with anti-Semitism within the party.
In March McDonnell called for the party to purge anti-Semites from its ranks, calling Jew-hatred a danger to the party’s soul.
“As soon as Jewish people start telling us there is anti-Semitism in our party, we’ve got to sit up and listen,” McDonnell told the BBC last month.
“[I]f there are people who have expressed anti-Semitic views, there is no role for them in our party and I would like them out of our party for life.”