LONDON — A leaked submission by the Jewish Labour Movement to an independent enquiry into allegations of anti-Semitism in Britain’s main opposition Labour Party has included further detailed examples of the phenomenon.
Earlier this year, the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s announced it would be carrying out the investigation after formal complaints from the movement and others.
The report, which was leaked on Thursday, lays the blame squarely on party leader Jeremy Corbyn for “making the party a welcoming refuge for anti-Semites” since he became leader in 2016.
It includes 70 testimonies from current or former Labour Party members. From the first sentence – “The Labour Party is no longer a safe space for Jewish people or for those who stand up against anti-Semitism” – the document is a damning indictment of the party and its current leadership.
It alleges that anti-Semitic abuse has become a common experience for Jews attending local party meetings, citing the experience of one respondent who detailed 22 separate instances of abuse at constituency meetings. These included being called “a Tory Jew,” a “child killer” and “Zio scum”.
Israel’s foreign minister said on Thursday that he hopes Labour loses the election, citing allegations of anti-Semitism in the party.
One party member described sharing a breakfast table at the Labour conference with two delegates he did not know. “They quickly agreed that Jews were ‘subhuman’, ‘didn’t deserve to be allowed to define what anti-Semitism is, and should ‘be grateful we don’t make them eat bacon for breakfast every day’.”
A parliamentary candidate described witnessing a party member tell a Jewish councilor to go home and count their money after they were deselected.
Another party worker said a colleague objected to the prospective membership of 25 ultra-Orthodox Jews, and visits were made to their homes – something that did not happen for other applicants.
Crucially, the Jewish Labour submission states that the complaints unit had not been acting independently from the leader’s office. Corbyn staffers often asked to be involved in procedures and the document includes an affidavit from a former party official who claimed that the leader’s office also asked for details of complaints to be transferred to it.
Staff dealing with complaints commented that “pressure on them from LOTO [the leader of the opposition, presumably from his office] to take a lenient position on anti-Semitism stemmed from a recognition that Mr. Corbyn and his senior advisers ‘were guilty of similar behaviour’.”
A Labour Party spokeswoman disputed the allegations, saying a former staffer would not know how the party’s procedures currently work, after reforms.
The Labour Party disputes that the problem of anti-Semitism has become endemic and has insisted that its complaints procedure has been speeded up.
“This document is one part of a wide-ranging statutory investigation into whether the Labour Party has breached the U.K.'s equalities laws,” said Adam Wagner, a human rights barrister acting for the Campaign Against Antisemitism, another one of the complainants to the commission.
“It does not disclose lots of new information but what it does, for the first time in a publicly available document, is present a detailed and damning portrayal of a political party which has become institutionally antisemitic over a number of years."
The report cites recent polling that showed 87 percent of British Jews consider Corbyn to be an anti-Semite and 47 percent say they will seriously consider leaving the country if he becomes prime minister.
The Jewish Labour Movement, which represents about 2,500 party members, was established nearly a century ago but will not campaign for Labour in this election as long as it is under the current leadership.
The submission, which was quoted in articles by the BBC and the Times newspaper and then published in full by a freelance journalist, comes a week before the U.K. goes to the polls.
The equality commission said in a statement: “We are unable to comment on the detail of this investigation as it is live and ongoing. We can, however, confirm that it will not be concluded before the end of the year.”
Reuters contributed to this report.
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