During the Labour Party Conference this week, party activists questioned the Holocaust, compared Israel to the Nazis and called for Jewish groups to be expelled from Labour, leading the Equality and Human Rights Commission to say that Labour “must do more to establish that it is not a racist party”.
Michael Kalmanovitz from the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, a hardline far-left group, said at a fringe meeting at Labour Party Conference: “If you support Israel you support apartheid – so what is the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) or Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) doing in our party. Isn’t it time we campaigned to kick them out?” His comments were met with applause from the audience.
Israeli-American author and pro-Palestinian activist Miko Peled said people should be allowed to question whether the Holocaust took place, in the name of free speech. He told a fringe event that boycotting Israel is justified because the country is a “racist settler regime” that is “very similar” to Nazi Germany and apartheid South Africa.
Labour’s Deputy Leader Tom Watson vowed the party would investigate the speaker and said he was disgusted the party gave him a platform.
On Tuesday, Warren Morgan, the Labour leader of Brighton Council, wrote to the Labour party’s general secretary, Iain McNichol, warning that the authority might ban its own party from holding future conferences in the city if it did not clean up its act on Jew-hate.
Mr Morgan said that he was concerned at the “antisemitism being aired publicly in fringe meetings and on the floor of conference”. He added: “As the Labour leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, I will undoubtedly face questions as to why we allow any event where anti-Semitic views are freely expressed to happen in the city, particularly on council premises”.
Labour adopted a new rule this week taking a tougher approach to combatting antisemitism. The rule change will amend the conditions of membership to explicitly state, among other things, that “prejudicial” conduct includes antisemitism.
Len McCluskey, the leader of the Unite union and close ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, attended an event organised by the anti-Zionist Jewish Voice for Labour group which opposed the rule change. He later told the BBC he believed the antisemitism row of the past two years was “mood music that was created by people who were trying to undermine Corbyn”.
On Monday, Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East (LFPME) published posts on Facebook and Twitter calling for a “final solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The caption, posted with a picture of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem behind barbed wire, read: “The Labour party’s two state solution will END the occupation – our solution will be the final solution. #FreePalestine #EndtheSeige [sic]”. The posts were later removed, with the group apologising for an “extremely poor choice of words”.
New research published by the Campaign Against Antisemitism this week showed that “Labour Party office holders account for 61% of the cases of alleged antisemitism, which is nearly eight times higher than the number of office holders in the second-placed parties”.