Labour party leader Starmer stumbles in effort to purge anti-Semites from party

Jewish advocacy group says Starmer missed an opportunity to send a clear message against anti-Semitism.

By Aaron Sull, World Israel News

Sir Keir Starmer had vowed to purge anti-Semitism from Britain’s Labour Party after taking over the reins as party leader from notorious anti-Semite Jeremy Corbyn last month.

Starmer’s promise was put to the test on Wednesday after reports surfaced that anti-Semitic MPs Diane Abbott and Bell Ribeiro-Addy took part in an online meeting on Wednesday arranged by a slew of anti-Semitic former Labour MPs.

One of the participants reported to be in attendance was former Labour MP Jackie Walker, who said Jews are the “chief financiers of the sugar and slave trade” and the “Jewish Holocaust does not allow Zionists to do what they want,” on a Facebook forum in 2019.

Starmer told the BBC on Thursday he rebuked Abbott and Ribeiro-Addy for their actions and told Manchester’s Bury Times that he is still looking into the matter.

“Obviously we’re looking at the circumstances of the meeting last night, but the most important thing is to build that relationship. And I know that’s going to be a difficult thing to do,” Starmer told Bury Times.

“What I’ve done since I’ve been the leader of the Labour Party is to take the first opportunity to apologize for the way we’ve dealt with anti-Semitism in the party, to build links with the Jewish community, to begin to get to grips with the cases,” he said.

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Labour Against Antisemitism took to Facebook on Thursday to slam Starmer for not taking harsher action.

“His decision to remind the two MPs of their responsibilities is an inadequate measure that fails to meet the standards he agreed to just a few weeks ago,” the Jewish advocacy group wrote.

“Sir Keir has missed the opportunity to send a clear message that anti-Semitism will not be tolerated in his party,” it said.

Shortly after being nominated to the position on April 5, Stermer apologized on behalf of his party for its lack of stamping out anti-Semitism and pledged to take decisive action.

“Anti-Semitism has been a stain on our party. I have seen the grief that it’s brought to so many Jewish communities,” Starmer said.

“On behalf of the Labour Party, I am sorry. I will tear out this poison by its roots and judge success by the return of Jewish members and those who felt that they could no longer support us,” he said.