The ongoing anti-Semitism row in the Labour Party has escalated with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn accused of failing to condemn hate rhetoric and reports have emerged that Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell previously promoted a website containing ‘tributes to suicide bombers’.
Jeremy Corbyn said yesterday that the Labour party was taking “resolute action” on the allegations of anti-Semitism within the party, yet he condoned his brother’s offensive tweets dismissing Labour MP Louise Ellman’s concerns about anti-Semitism.
Piers Corbyn described Ellman’s pleas for a clampdown on anti-Semitism as “absurd”.
The Labour leader’s elder brother tweeted: “ABSURD! JC + All #Corbyns are committed #AntiNazi. #Zionists cant [sic] cope with anyone supporting rights for #Palestine”.
When asked about his brother’s tweets by The Sun newspaper yesterday, Jeremy Corbyn said: “My brother has his point of view, I have mine and we actually fundamentally agree – we are a family that were brought up fighting racism from the day we were born”.
It has also emerged that Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell shared links on his blog to a website that included ‘tributes to suicide bombers’, in 2014.
McDonnell linked to the ‘Innovative Minds’ website to encourage his readers to boycott Israel during the 2014 conflict with Gaza. One of the articles published on the website focused on a suicide bomber who murdered 19 Israelis outside a nightclub.
CFI Parliamentary Chairman Sir Eric Pickles MP, also the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for post-Holocaust Issues, said that the posts on Innovative Minds amounted to “tributes to suicide bombers”.
Sir Eric said: “As well as promoting the boycotting of Israeli goods, these extremely unpleasant and anti-Semitic websites host extremist content, including tributes to suicide bombers and calls to jihad- the stated purpose of which is to ‘spill the blood’.
The MP for Brentwood and Ongar said that Mr McDonnell’s call against anti-Semitism lacked “credibility”.
He underlined: “The Shadow Chancellor has called for anti-Semites to be expelled from the Labour Party, he is right to do so, for their presence threatens the very soul of a once great party. But that call lacks credibility, when he himself endorses anti-Semitic boycott groups. The only way Labour, and its leadership, can rid itself of anti-Semitism is to cease keeping company with anti-Semites”.
A spokesperson for McDonnell said: “John was supporting a peaceful campaign against the bombing in Gaza at the time in 2014. The campaign suggested using the link to this website in order to take part. He was obviously not aware of the views this website historically expressed 10 years previously but John’s office has subsequently removed the link in question immediately”.
These reports follow the suspension of a number of senior officials and Labour members from the Party in recent months, including Vicki Kirby – vice-chair of the Woking Labour Party and a former Parliamentary candidate – who was suspended from the Party for a second time in March 2016 after making anti-Semitic remarks on Twitter.
Also recently suspended was Khadim Hussain, a Labour councillor and former Lord Mayor of Bradford, who shared a Facebook post that complained that the deaths of millions of Africans are not taught in schools but “your school education system only tells you about Anne Frank and the six million Zionists that were killed by Hitler”.
An ongoing investigation is being carried out by the Labour Party into allegations of anti-Semitism in its university organisations, following reports of anti-Semitism in the Oxford University Labour Club in February 2016.