British Labour branches mulling rule that expels members for using anti-Semitic language


(JTA) — British Labour Party lawmakers and Jewish activists have proposed a change in party rules to make it easier to permanently expel members who use anti-Semitic and other racist language.

The effort, spearheaded by the Jewish Labour Movement, comes amid a string of party scandals involving alleged anti-Semitism.

“Everybody’s talking about zero tolerance of anti-Semitism, but it’s become apparent because of a spate of incidents over the last couple of months that the rules and processes of the party don’t provide adequate provision to deal with it,” Jeremy Newmark, a Labour Party branch chair and representative of the Jewish Labour Movement, told the BBC on Wednesday.

The new rule would ban the use of anti-Semitic, Islamophobic or racist language by party members, the BBC reported.

If the motion is approved by the local branches, it would come up for a vote for adoption at the party’s annual conference this fall.

“We’ve now got a problem where too many of our Jewish members and people out there in the country think the Labour Party is apathetic to anti-Semitism and it isn’t a place for Jewish members,” Labour Party lawmaker Wes Streeting told the BBC. “I think we’ve got to make sure that this party with its historic commitment to tackling all forms of prejudice including anti-Semitism is still a place for Jewish people.”

Last weekend, party leader Jeremy Corbyn defended a remark by his brother Piers, who dismissed as “absurd” allegations that Labour was not properly handing anti-Semitism and said “Zionists can’t cope with anyone supporting rights for Palestine.”

Since Corbyn’s election to head Labour in September, the party has seen a string of scandals involving alleged anti-Semitism, including at its Oxford University chapter, which is now the subject of a party probe. Labour activist Bob Campbell also said on Facebook that the Islamic State group is run by Israel. Campbell was reported to have been suspended as a party member, though he has denied the action has taken place.

Separately, a Labour lawmaker in Parliament, Vicki Kirby, was suspended after it was revealed she suggested in a series of social media posts that Adolf Hitler might be a “Zionist god,” saying Jews have “big noses” and asking why ISIS was not attacking Israel.

The party over the weekend suspended a Muslim municipal lawmaker over anti-Semitic tweets written before she was elected, including one praising Adolf Hitler as the “greatest man in history.”

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