UK Labour lawmaker pans ‘anti-Semitic’ banner of Theresa May
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UK Labour lawmaker pans ‘anti-Semitic’ banner of Theresa May

Thangam Debbonaire distances herself from unofficial poster in Bristol showing British PM with Star of David earrings

A pro-Labour poster in Bristol portraying Theresa May with Star of David earrings, June 6, 2017. (Screenshot/Bristol Post)
A pro-Labour poster in Bristol portraying Theresa May with Star of David earrings, June 6, 2017. (Screenshot/Bristol Post)

A British Labour Party politician strongly condemned a banner put up by supporters of her election campaign that showed British Prime Minister Theresa May sporting Star of David earrings, in a derogatory reference to her support of Israel.

Member of Parliament Thangam Debbonaire, who is seeking reelection in the Bristol West constituency, denounced the banner and said anti-Semitism has no place in her party.

The banner was apparently put up by Labour supporters in the southwestern British city of Bristol, prompting accusations of anti-Semitism. It came as the party, trailing in polls ahead of Thursday’s vote, has been trying to shake off persistent accusations of anti-Semitism among some of its members.

Placed in a key location in the city and later removed, the banner depicted May, a Conservative, and rival Jeremy Corbyn of Labour facing each other, with slogans like “Balfour,” “causing ISIS,” “sanctions kill,” and “NHS cuts” on May’s side and “youth vote,” “skilled jobs” and “no student debt” on Corbyn’s side.

Posted by Thangam Debbonaire MP for Bristol West on Tuesday, 18 April 2017

“I want to make it completely clear that this banner was not erected with my knowledge, permission or support, or with the knowledge, permission or support of anyone in my campaign team. I condemn it absolutely,” Debbonaire wrote on her campaign’s Facebook page.

“The use of a Star of David in this way makes a link to the Jewish religion. There is no excuse for this. It is anti-Semitic.

“The person responsible for this banner says they are not a member of the Labour party,” she continued. “I am checking this. Anti-Semitism has absolutely no place in our party and I will not tolerate it.”

The massive poster was put up on Tuesday morning, just two days before the elections on June 8. It was voluntarily removed by organizers by Wednesday evening.

A Jewish resident told the Jewish Chronicle Tuesday that he was “incredibly sad and angry that the place both me and my partner, who is also Jewish, live is rife with such disgusting views.

“The Magen David [Star of David] earrings are clearly implying that the Jews/Israel have hegemony over our government, which is a century old anti-Semitic trope,” he added.

The resident, who did not want to be named, said the poster made her “sick.”

An organizer who put up the banner rejected the anti-Semitism charge, saying, “It’s not meant to be that at all. It’s a tiny element of the whole banner.

“What we are doing with that symbol – it’s an earring – is a reference to Theresa May’s government’s relationship with Israel,” Nima Masterson told the Bristol Post.

I heard yesterday afternoon that a banner had been erected around the Bearpit in the centre of Bristol with a Star of…

Posted by Thangam Debbonaire MP for Bristol West on Wednesday, 7 June 2017

“I’m relieved that the banner has been removed but am saddened that anyone in Bristol could decide that this was an acceptable way of making a point about their opposition to the current government,” Debbonaire wrote in her statement.

In April, May’s government rejected a Palestinian demand to apologize for the publication in 1917 of the Balfour Declaration, which legitimized the creation of a future Jewish state, saying instead that it was proud of the role Britain played in establishing Israel.

Signed on November 2, 1917, by the UK’s then-foreign secretary, Arthur James Balfour, the declaration announced his government’s intention to establish “a national home for the Jewish people” in the Land of Israel.

It was seen as giving the Zionist movement official recognition and backing on the part of a major power, on the eve of the British conquest of the then-Ottoman territory of Palestine.

This November will mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration.

In a greeting ahead of the Jewish New Year in September last year, May hailed the Balfour Declaration as an expression of the “UK’s support for the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people.”

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