A British Labour lawmaker has been slammed for expressing support for a conspiracist blogger who has claimed Zionists rule France, has shared platforms with Holocaust deniers, and vehemently supports Syrian President Bashar Assad’s bombing campaigns in civilian areas.
MP Chris Williamson, a close associate of party leader Jeremy Corbyn, on Sunday posted a tweet saying it was a “privilege” to meet and listen to a talk by Vanessa Beeley, who in recent years has made numerous controversial and inflammatory allegations.
Williamson, the Labour leader’s loudest backbench cheerleader, has long claimed criticism of anti-Semitism in the party is a right-wing plot aimed at discrediting Corbyn and has called it “positively sinister.”
The former frontbencher, who has argued that such claims are a “dirty lowdown trick” being used for “political ends,” appeared in March at an event alongside Jackie Walker, who is suspended from the party over allegations of anti-Semitism. Williamson has called for the party to reinstate both Walker and former London Mayor Ken Livingstone, who was similarly suspended and has since quit the party.
— Chris Williamson MP #JC9, yes 9 (@DerbyChrisW) August 19, 2018
The tweet spurred a storm of condemnation and media reports critical of Williamson.
Really a lot of Labour's issues could be sorted out if there was just a no-conspiracy-theory clause in the rulebook. https://t.co/B1G773Sunr
— David Baddiel (@Baddiel) August 20, 2018
Beeley has long supported Assad’s regime, with her blogs and talks being highlighted by the Syrian and Russian governments, and has repeatedly called the White Helmets humanitarian group “partner terrorists” who are “legitimate targets.”
The 54-year-old denies a popular uprising occurred in Syria in 2011, dubbing all rebels, critics and rivals of the regime “terrorists.” She accuses Western governments of plotting to topple Assad for their own interests, and has said meeting the Syrian president was her “proudest moment.”
She has said the Syrian opposition “tears pregnant women in half between cats” during a lecture in Sweden’s Uppsala University, according to students who attended.
During that lecture, she dedicated a slide to the “fake” rights group Human Rights Watch, saying it was funded by a Zionist billionaire and run by a Jewish organization called the “Washington Elite” to target US enemies.
In 2017 she called murdered Labour MP Jo Cox — who took great interest in the crisis caused by the Syrian civil war, had close ties with the UK Jewish community and was killed in 2016 by a far-right activist — a “warmongering Al Qaeda advocate.”
Earlier that year she tweeted that “Zionists rule France” after presidential candidate Francois Fillon denounced Assad, apologizing for his earlier praise of the dictator.
In November 2015, several days after the mass terror attack at the Bataclan club in Paris which left 89 people dead, Beeley called it a “false flag” and said there were “no suicide bombers.” She also believes the attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine was staged, and has said Al Qaeda wasn’t behind the September 11, 2001, terror attacks in the United States.
The fresh controversy followed countless recent revelations involving the embattled Labour party and its leader Corbyn’s support for the Hamas terror group.
On Tuesday, the UK’s Daily Mail reported that Corbyn met with members and backers of Hamas in the UK parliament just six months before being elected to head the party. The report said Corbyn spoke to Daud Abdullah, Azzam Tamimi, Zaher Birawi, and Mohammed Sawalha at a seminar entitled “The politics of reconstruction in Gaza” in the House of Lords in 2015.
A day earlier, another report found Corbyn had visited Hamas members during a 2010 trip to Israel and the West Bank, but did not meet with a single Jew. Corbyn also broke British parliamentary rules by failing to disclose that the trip was funded by a lobby group, i24News reported. Corbyn has since been referred to the Parliament’s ethics watchdog over the trip, the London Times reported Tuesday.
The visit took place November 5-9, 2010, and was reported at the time by the Palestinian Ma’an news agency
The Labour leader has in the past been criticized for calling terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah “friends” when inviting members for a parliamentary meeting in 2009. He later downplayed the comment and said he regretted using the term.
On Sunday, the Daily Telegraph reported that Corbyn sat on a panel at a 2012 conference in Doha with several Palestinian terrorists sentenced for murder, including then Hamas head Khaled Mashaal, and the head of Hamas’s military wing, who was responsible for the deaths of dozens of Israelis.
Last week, the Times of London published a picture of Corbyn standing next to Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine chief Maher al-Taher, at a commemoration ceremony for the Black September terrorists who took part in the 1972 massacre of 11 Israelis at the Munich Olympics. Corbyn’s participation in the October 2014 event, in which he was photographed with a wreath near the terrorists’ graves, had already caused an uproar, provoking fierce reactions from British Jews and Israeli politicians alike.
Last month, Labour pointedly decided not to adopt parts of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of anti-Semitism that related to Israel.
Robert Philpot and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.