Jewish journalists, anti-racism activists barred from Labour event in London

Dozens of Jews reportedly told at last minute their tickets are cancelled; organizers say those barred were guilty of misrepresenting party positions in anti-Semitism row

Members of the Jewish community hold a protest against Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and anti-Semitism in the  Labour party, outside the British Houses of Parliament in central London on March 26, 2018. (AFP/Tolga Akmen)
Members of the Jewish community hold a protest against Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and anti-Semitism in the Labour party, outside the British Houses of Parliament in central London on March 26, 2018. (AFP/Tolga Akmen)

Jewish journalists and activists against anti-Semitism were banned from attending an event organized by leading members of Britain’s Labour Party.

The event Thursday in London featured a speech by John McDonnell, a shadow chancellor of Labour and confidant of party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Dozens of Jewish people who had tickets to the event on Thursday evening, but who had previously spoken out about the anti-Semitism row that engulfed Labour over the summer were told at the last minute that their tickets had been cancelled, The Independent reported. No reason was given to them.

Organizers later accused the people banned, including reporters for The Jewish Chronicle and Jewish News as well as bloggers, of having “previously misrepresented events,” The Independent reported.

Some journalists were later allowed to attend, but they and other journalists were made to pay $10 in attendance fees, that went toward the campaign of activist Jenny Mason to enter parliament.

Labour MP John McDonnell, Shadow Chancellor, speaks ahead of the Grenfell fire one-year anniversary solidarity march organized by Justice4Grenfell and the Fire Brigade’s Union, in Westminster in London, June 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

At the event, McDonnell joined Manson, chair of the controversial Jewish Voice for Labour group, who is seeking to become a Labour lawmaker representing north London. The event had been organized by her campaign team, which is linked to a branch of Corbyn’s Momentum organization.

Manson’s group has been strongly condemned by mainstream Jewish groups because of its dismissal of concerns about anti-Semitism in Labour.

A spokesperson for Labour Against Antisemitism, whose members had been banned from attending, said: “The banning of Jewish Labour members from a John McDonnell event tonight is an act of racial segregation that underlines the institutional antisemitism now endemic within the Labour Party.”

Manson has frequently spoken in defense of people accused of anti-Semitism, including former London mayor Ken Livingstone, who was suspended by Labour after claiming Adolf Hitler had supported Zionism.

She has previously said she “began to identify as a Jew in order to argue against the state of Israel and its behavior.”

Mainstream Jewish groups in the United Kingdom, as well as former chief rabbi Jonathan Sacks, have called Corbyn, a far-left politician who has argued for a blanket boycott of Israel and had called Hezbollah and Hamas his “friends,” an anti-Semite. He had retracted both of these statements.

Earlier this year, a recording from 2013 had him claiming that Britain-born “Zionists” don’t understand irony. In 2015, he laid a wreath on a monument for perpetrators of the Munich massacre of 11 Israeli athletes in 1972, a terrorist attack by Palestinians that shocked the world with its brutality and the fact that it targeted a delegation to the Olympics.

Jeremy Corbyn (second from left) holding a wreath during a visit to the Martyrs of Palestine, in Tunisia, in October 2014. (Facebook page of the Palestinian embassy in Tunisia)

In 2013, Corbyn also defended a mural depicting hook-nosed men playing monopoly on the backs of dark-skinned people.

These and other scandals unleashed an unprecedented wave of street protests by British Jews against what used to be their political home. Manson’s group, however, protested against the demonstrators, claiming Labour does not have a problem with anti-Semitism and that the row has been concocted by right-wing Jews.

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