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Britain’s opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn gives a speech from the top of a double-decker bus as Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) flags fly at a May Day rally in London, England, May 1, 2016. Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images
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Labour Officials Suspended After Claiming Jews Were Behind African Slave Trade, Israel Behind ISIS

The party’s burgeoning anti-Semitism scandal was blamed for its poor showing in several constituencies in the UK elections

by
Yair Rosenberg
May 06, 2016
Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn gives a speech from the top of a double-decker bus as Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) flags fly at a May Day rally in London, England, May 1, 2016. Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images

Over the last two days, the British Labour party suspended two more officials for anti-Semitic statements. Earlier in the week, the party had suspended three local councilors in the span of five hours for offenses that included blaming Israel for the Sandy Hook massacre and claiming the Rothschilds control Britain. The week prior, the party did the same to former London mayor Ken Livingstone, who claimed Hitler was a Zionist, and to current MP Naz Shah, who had advocated for forcibly removing Israel from the Middle East while compared the Jewish state and Zionism to Nazi Germany.

The two latest Labour officials to be suspended rehashed some of these conspiracy theories, but also threw some new ones into the mix. Jacqueline Walker, the vice-chair of the national steering committee for Momentum, the hard-left advocacy group that brought Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to power, was suspended after she was revealed to have labeled the Jews the “chief financiers” of the African slave trade.

“As I’m sure you know, millions more Africans were killed in the African holocaust and their oppression continues today on a global scale in a way it doesn’t for Jews,” Walker wrote on Facebook. “Many Jews (my ancestors too) were the chief financiers of the sugar and slave trade which is of course why there were so many early synagogues in the Caribbean. So who are victims and what does it mean?”

“Ms. Walker,” reported the BBC, “said she was of Jewish descent and an active anti-racist.”

Soon after, David Watson, the fundraising coordinator for the Walthamstow Labour Party, was also suspended. Watson, whose Facebook profile featured pictures of him posing with prominent Labour politicians, had posted material on social media claiming Israel was training and equipping ISIS (specifically, this article from an anti-Semitic hate site), and regularly reposted pieces from If Americans Knew, an organization so blatantly anti-Semitic that it has been publicly disavowed by much of the Palestinian solidarity movement.

These latest suspensions come amid evidence that Labour’s seeming inability to police anti-Semitism in its ranks is having serious electoral impact. A new poll commissioned by the London Jewish Chronicle found that just 8.5 percent of British Jews would vote Labour if a general election were held today. In yesterday’s by-elections, the heavily Jewish constituencies of Eastwood and Manchester swung strongly for the Conservatives, an outcome both analysts and Labour party politicians attributed to the anti-Semitism scandals rocking Labour.

Yair Rosenberg is a senior writer at Tablet. Subscribe to his newsletter, listen to his music, and follow him on Twitter and Facebook.