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British report finds that anti-Semitism in the Labour Party was not overstated 

Anti-Semitism in the Labour Party became a “factional weapon,” a point of division between Labour members and their opponents

Former leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, delivers a speech during a pro-Palestine demonstration outside Downing Street in London, Britain, June 12, 2021. (Photo: REUTERS/Henry Nicholls)

A new report suggests that anti-Semitism in the British Labour Party was not overstated but was referred to frequently to call out former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and was denied by his supporters, The Guardian reported Tuesday. 

The Forde report, named for its author Martin Forde Q.C., reportedly found allegations of bullying, racism and sexism within the Labour Party, as well as denial of the use of anti-Semitism. 

The report was commissioned after a document was leaked containing hundreds of derogatory WhatsApp messages, which exposed deep factionalism in the Labour’s efforts to combat anti-Semitism. 

Many of the messages reportedly expressed “extreme hostility towards the former leader Jeremy Corbyn and his close allies and bemoan[ed] Labour’s better-than-expected performance at the 2017 general election,” according to The Guardian.

Significantly, the report found there had been no exaggeration of the problem of anti-Semitism within the British Labour Party.

“There is nothing … to support the conclusion that the problem of anti-Semitism in the party was overstated,” the report said. 

The finding contradicts Corbyn’s claim that the scale of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party under his leadership had been “dramatically overstated for political reasons” by opponents and the media, The Jewish Chronicle reported. 

Furthermore, the report found “no evidence that claims of anti-Semitism were fabricated by complainants or improperly pursued by the complaints team.”

Lord Ian Austin, who resigned from the Labour Party in protest of Corbyn’s handling of anti-Semitism, told the Chronicle that Corbyn – who is suspended – should be completely kicked out of the party after the findings of the Forde report. 

“Not only should Jeremy Corbyn’s suspension not be lifted, but Keir Starmer should kick him and his hard-left supporters out if he wants to show the British people that the Labour Party has truly changed from the days of Corbyn’s terrible leadership. There should be absolutely no way back for the former leader,” Austin said. 

“It’s terrible that this inquiry was needed in the first place. The Labour Party is supposed to be a party that fights for equality and justice, and is a party thousands of people like me joined in order to fight racism,” Austin said. “So, it is appalling that the party was poisoned by extremism and racism against Jewish people under Jeremy Corbyn’s terrible leadership, and it will take a long time and a lot of hard work to cleanse the party of this appalling stain.”

The Forde report also concluded that infighting had ripped apart the Labour Party and seriously hampered it in elections.  

“Some anti-Corbyn elements of the party seized on anti-Semitism as a way to attack Jeremy Corbyn, and his supporters saw it simply as an attack on the leader and his faction – with both ‘sides’ thus weaponising the issue and failing to recognise the seriousness of anti-Semitism,” the report found.

“Rather than confront the paramount need to deal with the profoundly serious issue of anti-Semitism in the party, both factions treated it as a factional weapon,” the report stated.

An unnamed Jewish Labour Movement spokesperson said that the report vindicated the negative experiences of Labour’s Jewish members. 

“The experiences of Jewish Labour members are yet again vindicated,” the spokesperson said. “It confirms that the Labour Party had a serious problem with anti-Semitism, and its denial and downplaying, which it demonstrably failed to address.”

Among its many recommendations, the Forde report advised that the Labour Party train its members to “develop deep listening and reflection skills to engage fully with those with different ideas and viewpoints.”  

The report recommended “compassion training” and where it relates to Jew-hatred, “anti-Semitism training that is incorporated into a wider programme on anti-racism, Islamophobia and education on protected characteristics.” 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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