UK’s Labour readmits former MP suspended over anti-Semitism

Jim Sheridan repeats ‘sincere apologies to the Jewish community,’ but says accusers were misguided and overreacted

Labour MP Jim Sheridan adresses UK Parliament on March 18, 2015. (Screen capture/YouTube)
Labour MP Jim Sheridan adresses UK Parliament on March 18, 2015. (Screen capture/YouTube)

The Labour Party in England has readmitted a former member of parliament who was suspended last year for posting on Facebook that he no longer had “respect and empathy” for the Jewish community.

Jim Sheridan said he was happy with the decision and was sorry for his remarks, but lashed out at his detractors.

“Whilst I am delighted with this decision, I remain of the view that my accusers were misguided and overreacted to what was intended to highlight my personal frustration and criticism of those intent on undermining our leadership in Scotland and the UK,” Sheridan was quoted as saying by the BBC on Sunday.

“I would also like to reiterate my sincere apologies to the Jewish community whose historic struggle I have supported all my political life,” he added.

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)

The former MP, who was the MP for Paisley & Renfrewshire North between 2005 and 2015 and served in parliament from 2001, was suspended last year from Labour, which has been dogged by allegations of anti-Semitism.

“For almost all my adult life I have had the utmost respect and empathy for the Jewish community and their historic suffering,” Sheridan had posted on his Facebook page last year. “No longer due to what they and their blairite (sic) plotters are doing to my party and the long suffering people of Britain who need a radical labour government.”

Since his election in 2015 to head Britain’s main opposition party, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has faced allegations that his critical attitude toward Israel and alleged tolerance of anti-Semitism have injected Jew hatred into the heart of the party.

In the 1980s, Corbyn had sponsored and spoken for a group called the Labour Movement Campaign for Palestine whose official platform declared its “opposition to the Zionist state as racist, exclusivist, expansionist and a direct agency of imperialism.” A conference it held in 1984 demanded that the Labour Party’s key institutions “support the Palestinian people in their struggle for a democratic and secular state in the whole of Palestine”; materials published by the movement for the event proclaimed that it sought “to eradicate Zionism.”

In 2009 Corbyn called Hamas and Hezbollah his friends and said that Hamas was working to achieve peace and justice; he subsequently apologized for the “friends” comment. In 2012 he defended an anti-Semitic mural — for which he also subsequently apologized. In 2013, he said British “Zionists” don’t understand British irony.

In 2014 he laid flowers at a cemetery where Palestinian terrorists who murdered Israeli athletes in Munich in 1972 are buried. Appearing at a Labour Friends of Israel reception during his party’s annual conference in 2015, soon after he had been elected Labour leader, he was heckled after giving an address during which he did not mention the word “Israel.”

In 2018 when Labour belatedly adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of anti-Semitism, Corbyn sought in vain to add a caveat that it should not be considered anti-Semitic to describe Israel and/or the circumstances of Israel’s establishment as racist.

Earlier this month a video was discovered in which Corbyn in 2011 was filmed applauding a speaker at a conference who called for the dismantlement of Israel, which he also said “kidnapped” Judaism. The footage was taken at a pro-Palestinian conference that Corbyn attended in 2011 alongside several anti-Israel activists who have been accused of anti-Semitism.

Britain’s former chief rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks has called Corbyn a dangerous anti-Semite.

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