Senior U.K. Labour Official Suspended for Saying Israeli Embassy ‘Whips Up’ anti-Semitism Claims

Peter Willsman, a member of the party’s National Executive Committee, said those within Labour complaining of anti-Semitism 'are people who are linked'

Cnaan Liphshiz
FILE PHOTO: Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party gives a speech days after he called a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Theresa May's government, in Hastings, Britain, January 17, 2019.
Cnaan Liphshiz

Britain’s Labour party suspended one of its top officials after he was recorded accusing the Israeli embassy of “whipping up” anti-Semitism claims against the movement’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

Peter Willsman, a member of the party’s National Executive Committee, was suspended Friday morning, the Jewish News of London reported.

The reason was a recording of comments he had made in January at a meeting in Oxford with the American-Israeli author Tuvia Tenenbom.

“The people that are in the Labour Party doing it are people who are linked. One of them works indirectly for the Israeli embassy,” Willsman said about campaigners within Labour working to address the party’s anti-Semitism problem. “So obviously, I wouldn’t want to be bothered to find out, but my guess is that they’re the ones that are whipping.”

Willsman also extended his claims of Israeli interference to the letter written by 68 rabbis last year, saying Labour has chosen to ignore the Jewish community.

“In the Guardian not long ago, we had 68 rabbis obviously organized by the Israeli embassy, 68 rabbis saying ‘antisemitism in the Labour Party is widespread and severe,’” he said.

Earlier this week, the United Kingdom’s foremost government watchdog on racism, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, officially launched an investigation into Labour’s anti-Semitism problem.

Jewish community leaders have said that Labour has developed an institutional anti-Semitism problem following the election in 2015 of Corbyn, a far-left politician, to lead the party. In many cases, harsh criticism of Israel takes the form of classic anti-Semitic tropes.