(JTA) — Britain’s Labour Party reportedly has secretly suspended 50 members in the past two months over anti-Semitic and racist comments.
The suspensions by the party’s compliance unit were reported in the British daily The Telegraph on Monday evening, citing a senior source within the party. Up to 20 members have been suspended in the past two weeks, the source said. Some 13 members have been publicly named since October.
On Monday, the party suspended three local lawmakers over a span of several hours for anti-Israel and anti-Semitic social media postings.
The Daily Mirror accused party head Jeremy Corbyn of playing down the issue of anti-Semitism and racism in the party after he said in an interview with the London-based newspaper: ‘What there is is a very small number of people that have said things that they should not have done. We have therefore said they will be suspended and investigated.”
On April 28, the party suspended former London Mayor Ken Livingstone for saying that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler was a Zionist for advocating in 1932 a policy of moving Europe’s Jews to Israel.
The following day, Labour said it would launch an investigation into anti-Semitism in the party. Corbyn also said in a statement that he would propose a new party code of conduct that would “make explicitly clear for the first time that Labour will not tolerate any form of racism, including anti-Semitism, in the party.”
Corbyn, a harsh critic of Israel who has called Hezbollah and Hamas activists “friends,” has been criticized for not doing enough to curb the rising anti-Semitic rhetoric in his party and has been accused of encouraging vitriol against Israel and Jews by not distancing himself from groups such as Hamas.
Local elections in Britain, including for mayor of London, are scheduled for Thursday in a race that Labour’s candidate, Sadiq Khan, is favored to win, which would make him the first Muslim mayor of a major Western city. Labour, however, is expected to lose tens of seats nationwide. Khan is among those who have called for Livingstone’s expulsion from the party.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Parliament member Naz Shah, who was suspended from the Labour Party last week for a a 2014 Facebook post that called for relocating the entire State of Israel to the United States, resigned from a Home Affairs Select Committee investigating anti-Semitism in the party. The committee agreed at her request to excuse Shah “until her current issues have been resolved,” The Telegraph reported.