Socialist British politician Jeremy Corbyn was suspended from the Labour Party after saying an anti-Semitism problem within the party was “dramatically overstated.”
“One antisemite is one too many, but the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media,” Corbyn, the former leader of the Labour Party, said on social media after the publication of the Equality and Human Rights Commission report.
He was suspended from the Labour Party soon after.
“In light of his comments made today and his failure to retract them subsequently, the Labour Party has suspended Jeremy Corbyn pending investigation,” the Labour Party said in a statement. “He has also had the whip removed from the Parliamentary Labour Party.”
The Equality and Human Rights Commission report, published Thursday, found the party had breached the Equality Act three times for interfering politically in anti-Semitism complaints, failure to provide adequate training to those handling antisemitism complaints, and harassment.
The investigation found that Corbyn’s office had interfered in 23 complaints, with decisions on suspensions and investigations sometimes made based on “likely press interest rather than any formal criteria,” a practice the EHRC found to be “indirectly discriminatory and unlawful.”
Ken Livingstone, former mayor of London, was also named in the report. His comments surrounding two anti-Semitic Facebook posts made by Labour MP Naz Shah were used as an example of “suggesting that complaints of antisemitism are fake or smears,” which was found to be unlawful harassment.
Shah posted an image of Israel relocated to the United States, with the caption “problem solved,” and compared Israeli policies to those of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. After Shah apologized, Livingstone denied the post was anti-Semitic and “alleged that scrutiny of Naz Shah’s conduct was part of a smear campaign by ‘the Israel lobby.’”
Throughout Corbyn’s tenure, he and other Labour MPs were accused of anti-Semitic behavior. He called terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah “friends,” comments he apologized for in 2016.
Corbyn also defended an anti-Semitic mural in 2012, which he later admitted in 2018 was “offensive” and “anti-Semitic.” The mural showed caricatures of Jewish bankers playing Monopoly on the backs of naked people.
In 2014, Corbyn attended a wreath-laying ceremony in Tunisia, which included a commemoration for members of the Black September group, which killed 11 Israelis and a West German Police officer at the 1972 Olympics. Corbyn admitted he was present but denied being involved.
In 2019, nine Labour MPs quit the party over Corbyn’s handling of anti-Semitism and Brexit. Frank Field, a Labour MP since 1979, quit the year prior. Luciana Berger, who is Jewish, called the party “institutionally racist” under Corbyn.
Caroline Waters, interim chair of the EHRC, said the investigation found an apparent “lack of willingness to tackle antisemitism rather than an inability to do so.”
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