UK Labour’s Jewish MPs, delegates to receive bodyguards for party conference

Security organization says ‘there is a real concern about safety’ from supporters of party leader Jeremy Corbyn

Illustrative: Jeremy Corbyn meets with asylum seekers in Glasgow, Scotland, August 22, 2018. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images via JTA)
Illustrative: Jeremy Corbyn meets with asylum seekers in Glasgow, Scotland, August 22, 2018. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images via JTA)

Jewish delegates to the upcoming British Labour Party conference will be given bodyguards over fears for their safety from supporters of party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The protection also will be offered to Jewish Labour Party lawmakers, the Daily Mail reported late Saturday.

The newspaper reported that the Jewish Labour Movement has held talks with the Community Security Trust, which oversees security for the Jewish community in Britain, about providing security for next month’s conference, which will be held in Liverpool.

The Daily Mail quoted an unnamed source as saying that “CST are reporting back with a full assessment of the security requirements. There is a real concern about safety.”

Jewish Labour lawmaker Luciana Berger, who serves as parliamentary chair for the Jewish Labour Movement, on Saturday slammed Corbyn for statements he made in 2013 that surfaced last week on video, in which he said that “Zionists” were unable to understand British ways of thinking despite growing up in the country.

Berger said she felt “unwelcome” in her own party after Corbyn’s “inexcusable comments.”

On Saturday, Labour Against Anti-Semitism said it lodged a formal complaint with the party against Corbyn for “anti-Semitism and for bringing the party into disrepute,” according to the Observer. Calling for Corbyn’s immediate suspension, a spokesperson for the group told the paper the Labour leader “must be subjected to the same scrutiny and procedures as any other member.”

Labour members who questioned the loyalty of British Jews have been investigated as part of Labour Party internal inquiries into anti-Semitism, the party told the newspaper. A party spokesman also told the Mail that the party “is committed to the security and well-being of all Jewish people.”

“Jeremy is determined to tackle anti-Semitism both within the Labour Party and wider society and the Party is committed to rebuilding trust with the Jewish community,” the party said in a statement on Saturday night.

Writer and activist Adam Ma’anit in a series of tweets accused Labour of sinking “into an anti-Semitic cesspit of its own making.”

Ma’anit, who said his 16-year-old cousin Orly Ofir was killed by terrorists linked to ex-Hamas military leader Husam Badran, who appeared at a 2012 conference in Doha with Corbyn, also tweeted: “Recently revealed details of Corbyn’s troubling past associations means I can no longer remain silent. This is personal.”

“At the ‘remarkable’ Doha conference, this supposed ‘man of peace’ Corbyn described contributions from recently released ‘brothers’ like Badran as ‘fascinating and electrifying.’ I felt sick to my stomach at these words.”

Corbyn — who was already under fire over his handling of anti-Semitism within the party and several recently surfaced anti-Israel remarks he made — faced fresh criticism last week after the Daily Mail published a video of a 2013 speech in which he asserted that “Zionists” were unable to grasp “English irony” despite often having lived in Britain for years.

Corbyn told attendees of a Hamas-endorsed conference in London that “Zionists… clearly have two problems. One is they don’t want to study history, and secondly, having lived in this country for a very long time, probably all their lives, they don’t understand English irony either. They needed two lessons, which we could perhaps help them with.”

Corbyn’s 2013 speech was met with backlash from a number of Labour MPs and Jewish figures, with the editor of the Jewish Chronicle saying “it’s almost impossible to read this as anything other than a reference to Jews.”

But Corbyn defended his remarks, insisting that his mention of “Zionists” was not a euphemism for the Jewish people.

The incident is the latest of a string of revelations detailing Corbyn’s antipathy for the Jewish state, and highlights the widening gap between the British left and the country’s Jewish community.

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