U.K. Labour MP Calls Corbyn 'F***ing anti-Semite and Racist' as Jewish Community Revolts

68 rabbis from different streams jointly condemn the U.K. Labour Party, while a lawmaker resigns from the party in protest

Britain's Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn addresses a rally, London, May 12, 2018
\ TOBY MELVILLE/ REUTERS

The strain on relations between the Labour Party and the Jewish community in the United Kingdom has seemingly reached breaking point.

On Monday, the party's National Executive Committee agreed to adopt a new definition of anti-Semitism that diverges from that of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

The new definition is broadly based on the IHRA's one, but omits at least four points. These include accusing Jews of being "more loyal to Israel" than their own country; claiming that Israel's existence is a "racist endeavor"; applying a "double standard" to Israel; and comparing "contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis."

The decision caused an immediate furor within the Labour Party, not least from Jewish lawmakers. 

MP Dame Margaret Hodge, a former Labour minister, allegedly called Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn a "f***ing anti-Semite and racist" while confronting him about the definition change in the Houses of Parliament. Though she denies using the F-word, the exchange is reported to have taken place.

The decision was ratified during a meeting of the National Executive Committee without a vote. Corbyn was present and supported the move, the Jewish Chronicle wrote. The new definition was proposed by a party subgroup last week.

However, the Jewish community's backlash against the move pressured the party to promise further review and consultation with the community.

In a joint statement, the Jewish Leadership Council, the Board of Deputies and the Community Security Trust stated that the promise of consultation was an insult, "given the complete lack of meaningful consultation up until now."

Also Monday, 68 rabbis, ranging from ultra-Orthodox to ultra-progressive, signed a letter decrying the adoption of the new definition. They wrote: “The Labour Party’s leadership has chosen to ignore those who understand anti-Semitism the best, the Jewish community.

"By claiming to know what’s good for our community, the Labour Party’s leadership have chosen to act in the most insulting and arrogant way," the statement said.

MP John Woodcock, whe represents the constituenct of Barrow and Furness, resigned from the party on Tuesday morning. He published his letter of resignation on Twitter, his reasons including anti-Semitism within the Labour Party. He also called Corbyn a "threat to national security." Woodcock, who was being investigated by the Labour Party over sexual harassment allegations, will now sit as an independent in Parliament.

Former Labour leader Ed Miliband also criticized the party. "Labour should adopt the full IHRA definition," he tweeted. "The argument that it is somehow incompatible with criticising the actions of the Israeli government is wrong. The views of the vast majority of the Jewish community are very clear. I would urge the NEC to get on with this at speed."