This week, the Community Security Trust (CST) published a new report into antisemitic discourse in the UK, with a focus on antisemitism in the Labour Party, most notably Ken Livingstone’s remarks in April 2016.
The report stated that “there has been no comparable situation in recent years, where antisemitic discourse has been an issue of such national attention and importance, in both Parliament and the media”.
As well as stating in a radio interview that Hitler “was supporting Zionism” before he “went mad and ended up killing six million Jews”, the former Mayor of London suggested that “there has been a very well orchestrated campaign by the Israel lobby to smear anybody who criticises Israeli policy as antisemitic”. He added: “Frankly, there has been an attempt to smear Jeremy Corbyn, and his associates, as antisemitic from the moment he became leader”.
The CST report underlined that “Livingstone’s statements typified the accusations of those who, despite all evidence to the contrary, continued to deny that there can be any such thing as antisemtism in left wing circles”.
The report analysed that his words “not only denied that there was any problem whatsoever, but could easily be taken to mean that any Jews (or others) expressing concern about antisemitism were doing so as part of a faked pro-Israeli plan”. It concluded: “Such language risks British Jews being regarded as willing agents and tools of Israel: rather than as being normal people who genuinely care about the problem of antisemitism”.
Also noteworthy is the attention given by the report to antisemitism in the form of anti-Zionism. The report states that antisemitic stereotypes and conspiracy theories are “often expressed through the language of anti-Zionism”, and have “become widespread and accepted in large parts of the anti-Zionist and anti-Israel left”.
While the Labour Party leadership commissioned the Chakrabarti Inquiry into antisemitism within the party, “many British Jews were unpersuaded” that the report and recommendations produced was “sufficient or effective”.
The report adds that other political parties had to address allegations of “antisemitic comments made by members or office holders”, including from former Liberal Democrat peer Jenny Tonge, who left the party after chairing an event in Parliament in which Israel was compared to ISIS and the Holocaust was blamed on Jews.
The full report can be read here.