(JTA) — One of the British Labour Party’s major donors left the party over its failure to deal with “the most blatant acts of anti-Semitism.”
Sir David Garrard, who is Jewish, has donated about $2.1 million to Labour since 2003.
“As one of the former leading political and financial supporters of the Labour party, of which I was a member for so many decades, I no longer feel any affinity with, or connection to, what it seems to have become,” Garrard told the British newspaper The Observer in remarks that were widely republished in other British news publications, including its parent publication The Guardian.
The announcement comes as the major British daily The Independent on Sunday reported that 12 senior staff working for Corbyn and for the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, are members of Facebook groups containing anti-Semitic and violent comments, including praise for Adolf Hitler and threats to kill British Prime Minister Theresa May.
The report also found that 20 of the biggest pro-Corbyn Facebook groups contained “more than 2,000 racist, anti-Semitic, misogynistic, violent and abusive messages,” and found routine attacks on Jewish people, including Holocaust denial. Many of the groups are restricted to members only.
Garrand said that he has “watched with dismay and foreboding the manner in which the leadership has, in my view, over the last two years, conducted itself. I consider that it has supported and endorsed the most blatant acts of anti-Semitism.”
“And yet it has failed to expel many of those who have engaged in the grossest derogatory fantasies about Jewish/Zionist conspiracies – and Jewish characterizations and accusations which conjure up the very kind of anti-Semitic attacks that led to such unbearable consequences for innocent millions in the past,” he also said, adding: “So there no longer exists a party which even pretends to maintain and promote the principles and the integrity of what always was, to me, the Labour Party.”
Last month, Corbyn was found to have been a member of a private Facebook group for two years until 2015 that featured many anti-Semitic statements. He said he had not read any of those statements.
Corbyn called Hezbollah and Hamas his friends in 2009 and said it was an honor to host representatives from those terrorist groups in parliament. In 2016 he said he regretted making those remarks.
He has vowed to kick out any Labour member caught making racist or anti-Semitic statements. Dozens were expelled but many others accused of these actions were allowed to stay or were readmitted.
British Jews and an interparliamentary committee of inquiry have dismissed as unsatisfactory an internal Labour audit that largely cleared the party of anti-Semitism allegations.