The UK Labour Party, already deeply embroiled in an anti-Semitism scandal, tried to reach out to Jews on Friday with a Passover greeting, only to have the effort compound its woes.
The greeting, posted on Twitter by London Labour, wished a “Happy Passover from everyone at Labour,” but was illustrated with a glass of wine and a loaf of bread.
One of the central laws of Passover is that Jews are prohibited from eating leavened products, most notably bread.
The Passover custom of eating only unleavened products commemorates the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, which, according to the Bible, took place so quickly that they did not have time for their bread to rise.
The presumably well-intentioned if misfiring Tweet was quickly deleted, but not before prompting sarcasm, ire and ridicule from some British Jews and others.
UK's Labour Party is wishing Jews a happy Passover — the holiday where the observant aren't allowed to eat leavened bread — by using a graphic of a bread loaf. pic.twitter.com/Uxfmo4ugFG
— Brett Rosner (@Brosner85) April 19, 2019
“Which major political party would include a picture of bread in their Passover message? Passover being a festival in which bread is forbidden to Jews. Yep, you guessed it. Labour,” wrote Philip Rosenberg, public affairs director of the Board of Deputies
“If only we Jews could understand irony we’d realize how ironic it was for Labour to wish us a happy Passover using a loaf of bread for illustration — when one of the unshakeable tenets of the festival is that we don’t eat bread during it. Thanks for the thought…. Sigh,” wrote journalist Sarah Ebner.
She was referring to Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s inflammatory assertion, which caused a stir last year, that British Zionists “don’t understand English irony.”
Corbyn’s remark, one in a stream of allegedly anti-Semitic utterances and activities by him and other Labour members, was widely interpreted as referring to British Jews, something Corbyn has denied.
Thousands of cases of alleged hate speech against Jews have been recorded within Labour since 2015, when Corbyn, a far-left politician, was elected to lead the party. The Board of Deputies of British Jews has accused Corbyn of encouraging anti-Semitic rhetoric and at times engaging in it, though he disputes the claim.
Following growing public scrutiny of the problem, Labour is facing the prospect of an official inquiry by the United Kingdom’s Equality and Human Right’s Commission, the main government anti-racism watchdog.
In March, British police arrested three people near London suspected of inciting anti-Semitic hatred in the Labour Party’s ranks.
The arrests were rare interventions by law enforcement against suspected propagators of anti-Semitism within the party.
Labour’s wasn’t the only Passover greeting mistake.
Conservative Party politician and London mayor candidate Shaun Bailey posted his Passover greeting with the Hebrew text running in the wrong direction.
— Liron Velleman (@vellstells) April 18, 2019
It was later corrected.