A former chief fundraiser for the Labour Party in Britain threatened to quit the political faction unless more efforts are made to address growing allegations of anti-Semitism plaguing the party’s ranks.
“Anti-Semitism in any political party cannot be tolerated and it is for the leadership to make that absolutely clear,” Lord Levy — who served under former prime minister Tony Blair — said in a Sky News interview. “If they don’t make that clear, then I will start to question myself and actually question my being a Labour peer.”
Labour has seen a string of scandals involving alleged anti-Semitism, including at its Oxford University chapter, which is now the subject of a party probe. Separately, a Labour local vice chair, Vicki Kirby, was suspended last week — her second suspension — after it was revealed she had suggested in a series of social media posts that Adolf Hitler might be a “Zionist god” and Jews have “big noses,” and asked why Islamic State was not attacking Israel.
“It is now up to leadership to make sure that there is a clear and unequivocal message out there that anti-Semitism in any form will not be tolerated within the Labour Party,” Levy continued, according to The Guardian. “The leadership must come out with that message in absolutely a specific way because from my perspective — being a member of this party — that is of paramount importance to me.”
Last week, Jonathan Arkush, the head of a major group representing British Jews, said the Jewish community can no longer trust the Labour Party. Reacting to the incidents of alleged anti-Semitism by Labour representatives, Arkush said: “It confirms the belief we have had for a long time that there is a real problem of anti-Semitism on the far left, which now eclipses the anti-Semitism that we have always seen coming from the far right.”
Relations between the political, mainstream establishment of the British Jewish community and Labour deteriorated following the election of Jeremy Corbyn in September of last year to head the opposition party.
A hard-core socialist deemed by many as too radical to lead Labour back to power, he has alienated many Jews — which, as a community, used to be traditionally supportive of Labour — with his endorsement of enemies of the Jewish state, including the terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah.
Corbyn has rejected accusations that he endorses anti-Semites as “ludicrous and wrong,” and reiterated statements on his determination to fight racism in all its forms. But many British Jews remained suspicious in view of his public endorsements, including in 2009, of activists from Hezbollah and Hamas as “friends.”