UK Labour MPs face backlash for attending anti-Semitism protest
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UK Labour MPs face backlash for attending anti-Semitism protest

Lawmakers accused of participating in political attack on party leader, Jeremy Corbyn

British Labour Party politician David Lammy (2R) joins members of the Jewish community holding 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)
British Labour Party politician David Lammy (2R) joins members of the Jewish community holding 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)

British Labour lawmakers who participated in a protest rally that criticized leader Jeremy Corbyn for failing to deal with anti-Semitism in his party have been slammed by party members, some of whom have called for them to be removed from office.

Some of the MPs have been subjected to abuse on their social media pages amid accusations that the rally was more about attacking Corbyn than pleading for action against discrimination, the Guardian newspaper reported Wednesday

During Monday’s event, around 1,500 protesters massed outside the British parliament. It was an unprecedented rally organized by the usually publicity-averse Anglo-Jewish leadership, and attendees bore signs reading “No to anti-Semitism,” as pressure ramped up on the party and its leader.

The Corbyn-backing blog Skwakbox emailed five Labour MPs who were at the rally demanding to know what actions they had taken against other forms of racism, in what was seen as a suggestion that their participation was political rather than principled.

In response, over 40 MPs and political figures published an open letter Tuesday on the Huffington Post website accusing Skwakbox of bullying those who took part in the protest.

David Lammy, MP for Tottenham, was one of those who attended the protest rally. A private Facebook page for Labour Party members in his constituency has received a number of posts calling for him to be replaced, the Guardian said.

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)

An open letter from the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Anglo-Jewry’s main representative organization, and the Jewish Leadership Council earlier Monday accused the veteran leftist of siding with anti-Semites “again and again.”

The letter said Corbyn was “repeatedly found alongside people with blatantly anti-Semitic views,” but “claims never to hear or read them.”

What triggered the protest was a Facebook comment from 2012 that recently came to light.

Corbyn had offered support to a street artist whose mural in east London depicted a group of businessmen and bankers, some of them Jewish, counting money around a Monopoly-style board balanced on the backs of men with dark complexions. The mural has since been taken down. On Sunday, Corbyn said he was wrong to support the painter’s “artistic freedom” without looking more closely at the image.

Kalen Ockerman's mural 'The Enemy of Humanity' (photo credit: YouTube screen shot)
Kalen Ockerman’s mural ‘The Enemy of Humanity’ (YouTube screenshot)

In a statement issued Monday as the protesters began to gather, Corbyn pledged to be “a militant opponent of anti-Semitism,” telling the Jewish community: “In this fight, I am your ally and always will be.”

Allegations of Labour anti-Semitism have grown since Corbyn, a pro-Palestinian socialist, was elected leader of Britain’s main opposition party in 2015.

Some in the party say Corbyn, a longtime critic of Israeli actions against the Palestinians, has allowed abuse to go unchecked.

At what was described as an “emotional” shadow cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Corbyn instructed Labour’s incoming general secretary Jennie Formby to make action against anti-Semitism in the party her priority, the BBC reported.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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