Antisemitism used as ‘factional weapon’ in UK Labour infighting, says report

The issue was “weaponized” by factions in the British party, said a report, with both sides “failing to recognize” its seriousness.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

A long-awaited Labour-commissioned report has concluded that factions of the British opposition under former leader Jeremy Corbyn used the very real problem of antisemitism in the party as a weapon rather than dealing with it.

“Some anti-Corbyn elements of the party seized on antisemitism 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 antisemitism,” said the Forde Report.

Countering Corbyn’s claims at the time that the problem was being blown out of proportion, it stated, “There is nothing…to support the conclusion that the problem of antisemitism in the party was overstated.”

The Forde Report also found that Corbyn himself had stepped into the disciplinary process in “a limited number” of cases of antisemitism, mostly in connection with his allies, which it deemed “deplorable.”

But it also defended Corbyn, saying that in other cases his staff had provided information “for the most part, reasonably and in good faith.”

The report was panned by the Campaign Against Antisemitism group, which said, “Taking even-handedness to an absurd extreme, the Forde Report tries to criticise and defend both ‘sides’ in Labour’s antisemitism scandal equally.

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“One ‘side’ was filled with antisemites and their enablers. The Report failed to grasp this elemental truth, rendering it useless,” it said.

In contrast, a Jewish Labour Movement spokesperson said in response to the findings that “the experiences of Jewish Labour members are yet again vindicated. It confirms that the Labour party had a serious problem with antisemitism and its denial and downplaying, which it demonstrably failed to address.”

Current party leader Keir Starmer authorized lawyer Martin Forde to delve into the issue after an internal investigation of how his party dealt with antisemitism within its ranks under his predecessor was leaked to the press in April 2020.

The investigation included hundreds of WhatsApp messages that showed how antagonistic some of the membership was towards Corbyn and his followers. It concluded that this hostility was one reason Labour mishandled serious internal charges of Jew-hatred.

There was “abundant evidence of a hyper-factional atmosphere prevailing in party HQ in this period, which appears to have affected the expeditious and resolute handling of disciplinary complaints,” it said.

The report cited no proof that the grievances were treated any differently than other complaints or that those in charge had been “motivated by antisemitic intent.”

Several members of Parliament resigned from the party during Corbyn’s reign, citing acceptance of antisemitism as their reason for leaving.