At this point, reports of senior Labour Party officials making outrageously anti-Semitic comments hardly qualify as news, but here we go again: A Jeremy Corbyn ally and senior Labour leader recently said that claims of anti-Semitism in the party were invented by “Trump fanatic” Jews, and demanded that communal leaders expressing unanimous concern about the party’s bias produce evidence that the discrimination they’re sensing is real.
Peter Willsman, a longtime member of the party’s National Executive Committee, made his comments in the controversial meeting earlier this year in which the NEC decided to reject the widely accepted definition of anti-Semitism published by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance and amend it instead to permit for a wide array of bigoted statements, including comparing Israel’s government to the Nazis. The decision sparked fresh outrage among British Jews, and led to a joint editorial by the nation’s three leading Jewish publications.
Following Willsman’s rant—a recording is available here—the Board of Deputies, the umbrella organization of British Jews, called on Labour to expel Willsman, which, more than a day later, it still has not done. Willsman, meanwhile, offered an apology, saying he “deeply regretted” his remarks but insisting that Labour had no concrete anti-Semitism problem. “I do not believe antisemitism is ‘widespread’ in the Labour Party,” he said, “and that was what my comments were trying to refer to.”
It may be news to Willsman, but Damien Enticott, a Labour lawmaker, was suspended this week after posting articles on his Facebook page that claimed that Jews drink human blood, and Mary Bain Lockhart, another Labour lawmaker, was also suspended this week after claiming that the British Jews complaining about anti-Semitism in her party were possibly secret agents dispatched by the Mossad. That’s two lawmakers and two libelous conspiracy theories in just one week. But perhaps any real soul-searching is too much to expect from a party whose leader, Jeremy Corbyn, appeared on Iranian TV as recently as 2012 with a man he called a “brother,” Abdul Aziz Umar, a Hamas terrorist who masterminded the Jerusalem suicide bombing that killed seven innocent people, including a father taking his daughter out to lunch the day before her wedding. “You have to ask the question why they are in prison in the first place,” Corbyn said of Umar and his fellow terrorists. “I’m glad that those who were released were released.”