The longtime leader of the Labour party tells Israeli TV that anti-Semitism must be rooted out “completely and totally.”
By: World Israel News Staff
Ex-British Prime Minister and former Labour Party leader Tony Blair says that anti-Semitism in party ranks would have been unthinkable when he was in charge. During an interview with Channel 10 while on a diplomatic mission to Israel, Blair blasted the current party leadership over its utter “failure to tackle anti-Semitism within its ranks, and root out anti-Semitism completely, totally.”
Blair served as British Prime Minister between 1997-2007, and led the Labor party for 13 years. Blair said he is certain that the general British public is not at all anti-Semitic, and that Labor had to make it clear that anti-Jewish sentiment in party ranks cannot be tolerated.
“I’m extremely sad about it, and anxious about it, and also very determined that the Labor Party should take the action necessary. There should be zero tolerance towards it. It’s one of these things that if you allow it to take root at all within a political party, it’s hard then to uproot it. This is a situation, frankly, I could not even have imagined when I was leader of the Labour Party,” he said.
Blair told Channel 10, “I’m distressed on behalf of the Jewish community. I’m afraid it is a problem. The leadership has now said that they’re going to take the necessary action. But they really need to do that. The progressive part of British politics has got to get away from this notion of criticizing the whole concept of Zionism. This is a danger because it so easily trends into anti-Semitism.”
Trying to explain how anti-Semitism has seeped into Labour, Blair said, “The difficulty is that there is a lot of popular anger at the state of things all over Western politics today. People look for causes or issues upon which they can attach blame.” Blair then warned, “It’s important that the Labour Party makes it very clear that these sentiments are completely against everything that we stand for as a country and everything that we pride ourselves on as a community.”
The issue of anti-Semitism in the Labour party returned to the headlines on Sunday, when a former speaker of the House of Commons Michael Martin demanded a special party conference to discuss the issue and warned that anti-Semitism could cost the party the next election. Martin told The Guardian newspaper, “If you ran a restaurant, and it was dirty and there were cockroaches, you wouldn’t get away with saying ‘The restaurant down the road is dirty and has cockroaches too.’ You would be expected to sort out the problem.” Martin disagreed with those who said the issue of anti-Semitism was being used in an effort to rid the party of its leader Jeremy Corbyn.
On March 26, about 1,500 protesters, including British Jewish leaders, gathered outside Britain’s Houses of Parliament to protest anti-Semitism in the UK Labour party. The slogan they chanted was, “Enough is enough.”