A Jewish member of parliament for Labour on Thursday morning stormed out of a London event at which the party unveiled the findings of its anti-Semitism inquiry, after a supporter of leader Jeremy Corbyn accused her of controlling the media.
“This morning, at the launch of the Chakrabarti Inquiry into antisemitism, I was verbally attacked by a Momentum activist and Jeremy Corbyn supporter who used traditional antisemitic slurs to attack me for being part of a ‘media conspiracy,'” Ruth Smeeth wrote in a statement on her website after the incident. (Momentum is a left-wing pro-Corbyn Labour group.)
“It is beyond belief that someone could come to the launch of a report on antisemitism in the Labour Party and espouse such vile conspiracy theories about Jewish people, which were ironically highlighted as such in Ms Chakrabarti’s report, while the leader of my own party stood by and did absolutely nothing,” she said.
“Until today I had made no public comment about Jeremy’s ability to lead our party, but the fact that he failed to intervene is final proof for me that he is unfit to lead, and that a Labour Party under his stewardship cannot be a safe space for British Jews,” she continued.
The inquiry, helmed by veteran human rights activist Shami Chakrabarti, was launched after a string of high-profile suspensions in Labour over anti-Israel and anti-Jewish comments. The suspended members include former London mayor Ken Livingstone, who said that Hitler supported Zionism, and MP Naz Shah, who shared a post on Facebook that called for the relocation of Israel to the US and tweeted a link to a blog that claimed Zionism was used to “groom” Jews to “exert political influence at the highest levels of public office.”
In her statement, Smeeth, the MP for Stoke-on-Trent North, said that no one from Corbyn’s office had been in touch with her after the incident, which she called “a catastrophic failure of leadership.”
The MP joined the growing list of Labour parliamentarians who have urged Corbyn to step down in recent days.
“I call on Jeremy Corbyn to resign immediately and make way for someone with the backbone to confront racism and antisemitism in our party and in the country,” Smeeth wrote.
The MP’s account of the incident was backed up by Telegraph reporter Kate McCann, who tweeted that she was the journalist with whom the Corbyn supporter had accused Smeeth of colluding. The accusation that Jews control the media is a long-standing anti-Semitic trope.
Then Momentum man gets Q, accuses @RuthSmeeth of colluding with Telegraph journo (me) despite Corbyn warning that Jewish/media tropes banned
— Kate McCann (@KateEMcCann) June 30, 2016
Corbyn also came under fire Thursday for appearing to compare Israel to the Islamic State in his own speech in response to the release of the anti-Semitism report.
“Our Jewish friends are no more responsible for the actions of Israel or the Netanyahu government than our Muslim friends are for those various self-styled Islamic states or organizations,” he said, drawing furious responses from Israeli lawmakers.
Corbyn's words imply a serious lack of moral judgement. Just as all Muslims are not to blame for ISIS, not all Brits are to blame for Corbyn
— ציפי לבני Tzipi Livni (@Tzipi_Livni) June 30, 2016