A long-awaited report on anti-Semitism within the British Labour Party has ruled that the party has acted illegally in its treatment of Jewish members.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (ECHR) today presented the results of an 18-month investigation into anti-Semitism within the party and its handling of complaints of anti-Jewish hatred. It has ruled that the party has committed unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination.
Under former party leader Jeremy Corbyn, the party was accused of institutional racism against Jews, and a number of deputies resigned on the issue. The crisis preoccupied Corbyn’s leadership, and Jewish groups called today’s publication a “decisive” moment and called for those responsible to be brought to justice. The EHRC investigation was prompted by fears that anti-Semitism was widespread among some of Corbyn’s hardline supporters, claiming that he had failed to combat the abuse of Jewish members while bearing responsibility.
The Labour Party saw a draft of the EHRC’s conclusions in July, but Corbyn’s successor as chairman Sir Keir Starmer said he would not comment until the final report was published. In his first statement after taking over the party in April, Starmer said that combating anti-Semitism was his “priority” and that he planned to “rip out this poison at its roots. He was later praised by Jewish leaders for having achieved “more in four days than his predecessor did in four years.
In June, Starmer fired his secretary for shadow formation, Rebecca Long-Bailey, after she broadcast a consenting tweet about an interview in which actress Maxine Peake claimed that the tactics of the U.S. police in kneeling on someone’s neck had been taught by Israeli intelligence. The opposition leader is likely to accept all recommendations of the EHRC report. Earlier, he said Labour would fully cooperate with the investigation and work to implement all the recommendations of the commission.
The head of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism (CAA), Gideon Falter, said: “Under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party became institutionally anti-Semitic and drove almost half of British Jews to consider leaving the country. The party must be changed forever after this incident so that nothing like this can ever happen again.
“Those responsible remain in the party and must be held accountable if Sir Keir Starmer wants to ‘pull anti-Semitism out by its roots’, as he has promised. The EHRC’s report is a key moment in this corrective process, which is why we called in the EHRC and were the original complainant in its investigation.
Labour Against Ant-Semitism (LAA) spokeswoman Fiona Sharpe said the group hoped that Labour would build on the findings of the EHRC.
“Whatever its verdict, the Jewish community will continue to bear the wounds of five years of institutional anti-Semitism within the Labour Party,” she said, “its pain will always remain a scar on the reputation and conscience of the whole Labour movement.
The EHRC announced a Labour Party inquiry in May 2019, after being contacted by several Jewish groups, including the CAA, the Jewish Labour Movement and the LAA, who participated in the inquiry.
It is believed that these submissions contained evidence from party members, staff and MPs. The CAA claims to have filed a number of disciplinary complaints about Corbyn with the party between 2016 and 2018, including his defence of an anti-Semitic mural on Facebook in 2012. Corbyn later admitted that it was wrong to support the graffiti artist whose “offensive” work was scrubbed off a wall in London’s East End.
He also filed a formal complaint about a Holocaust Memorial Day event that Corbyn hosted in the House of Commons in 2010. In 2018, the Executive Director of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, Olivia Marks-Woldman, said this was “an appalling abuse of the Holocaust” and “trivializes the suffering of millions of Jews through inappropriate and offensive comparisons”.
The CAA argues that Labour “repeatedly refused to open an investigation”, which led it to formally refer its complaints to the EHRC. Corbyn has insisted that during his time as chairman, he addressed the issue of anti-Semitism and strengthened the party’s disciplinary procedures. His former chief of staff Karie Murphy defended Anfan