“I am not going to be lectured by a Trump fanatic,” a senior Labour Party member said in response to claims by Britain’s Jewish community about anti-Semitism within Labour’s ranks.
By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
A member of the British Labour Party’s ruling body was revealed on tape Monday as blaming Jewish supporters of US President Donald Trump for lying when reporting that the opposition party is riddled with anti-Semitism.
“I am not going to be lectured to by Trump fanatics making up duff information without any evidence at all,” National Executive Committee (NEC) member Pete Willsman is heard saying angrily at the July 17th meeting in which the group adopted a watered-down definition of anti-Semitism against the wishes of a vast majority of Labour’s own members of parliament.
“I think we should ask the 70 rabbis: Where is your evidence of ‘severe and widespread’ anti-Semitism in this party,” he continues, referring to a public letter written by British rabbinic leaders from across the religious spectrum right before the NEC met. In it, they charged that there was such terrible Jew-hatred in the party that they had to speak out, adding that it was “not the Labour Party’s place to rewrite a definition of anti-Semitism.”
In the recording, obtained and posted online by London’s Jewish Chronicle, Willsman is heard challenging his listeners to “put their hands up” if they’ve seen anti-Semitism in the party, and is evidently surprised by what he sees, as he goes on to say, “I’m amazed. I’ve certainly never seen any.”
After hearing the tape, Jewish Labour MP Luciana Berger, parliamentary chair of the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM), called for the party to suspend Willsman immediately and conduct a formal investigation of his conduct.
“Anyone listening to this recording will be appalled to hear the venom and fury directed by Mr. Willsman at the British Jewish community,” she told the Chronicle.
She also responded to Willsman’s claim that he had never seen anti-Semitism in the party.
“Mr. Willsman only has to take a look at his NEC papers or the many recent press reports to see evidence of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party,” she said.
“In the past week alone, two Labour councillors have been suspended and the party has confirmed that 252 people are being investigated for the comments they’ve made online directed at Dame Margaret Hodge, MP,” she added, referring to the longtime Labour stateswoman who was widely reported to have called party head Jeremy Corbyn an “anti-Semitic racist” after the NEC vote.
The president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Marie van der Zyl, went even further than Berger, calling in a tweet for Willsman to be “summarily expelled” from the party.
Just last Thursday, a joint front-page editorial published in the country’s three most prominent Jewish papers charged: “The stain and shame of anti-Semitism has coursed through Her Majesty’s opposition since Jeremy Corbyn became leader in 2015.”
A government led by Corbyn would pose an “existential threat to Jewish life in this country,” they stated.