Labour Party Leader Dares to Criticize Colleagues' Anti-Semitism

Posted: Aug 06, 2018 4:15 PM

The UK Labour Party has long been criticized for its tinges of anti-Semitism. They've done little to correct that image. In March, Matt reported on just a few instances of Labour politicians making apparent anti-Semitic remarks. Labour politicians have, for instance, said Jewish people have “big noses” and accused them of being responsible for the 9/11 terror attacks. Others have supported the ethnic cleansing of Israelis by suggesting they relocate to the United States. 

Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson recognized the issue in his party and rightfully brought it to the surface in a recent interview with The Guardian. He also suggested steps they can take to correct the hateful bias. He urged Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to adopt the full International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, as well as end internal investigations into two MPs who face disciplinary charges after condemning their party’s stance on antisemitism. They both lost family members in the Holocaust.

“This is one of those moments when we have to take a long, hard look at ourselves, stand up for what is right and present the party as fit to lead the nation – or disappear into a vortex of eternal shame and embarrassment,” Watson said.

“I think it is very important that we all work to de-escalate this disagreement, and I think it starts with dropping the investigations into Margaret Hodge and Ian Austin.

“I have frequently had very difficult conversations with both Margaret and Ian but what I understand is that your critics are not your enemies. On an issue that is so dear to them, I think people are very, very concerned that these investigations should be dropped quickly.” (The Guardian)

Corbyn himself has been accused of anti-Israel bias. In 2010 he spoke at an event that compared Israel’s actions in Gaza to the atrocities committed by the Nazis. Last weekend, he apologized for that appearance. He also acknowledged that Labour has “a real problem” and insisted that people who express anti-Semitic views “have no place in our movement,” he wrote.

Instead of applauding Watson's bold call to action, activists started tweeting #ResignWatson. He was floored. 

A fellow Labour politician weighed in on Watson's remarks with some anti-Semitic remarks of his own.

"Apparently Watson received £50,000+ from Jewish donors. At least Judas only got 30 pieces of silver," George McManus, a member of Labour's national policy forum, wrote on Facebook. 

McManus apologized and deleted the post.

Watson was thankful to have some defenders who appreciated his candor and willingness to hold his party accountable.