London’s Labour Party has responded to accusations of anti-Semitism by suspending several party leaders and launching an investigation into statements that have been deemed anti-Israel. However, days before the May 5, 2016, election, the Labour Party continues to be plagued with accusations of anti-Semitism that could cost them the mayoral election.
The Labour Party is the largest political group in London. The group holds half of the seats in Parliament, 60 percent of London seats in the House of Commons, 52 percent of the seats in the London Assembly and 21 out of 32 of London’s boroughs are controlled by these progressives. The Labour party candidate, Sadiq Khan, is favored to with the mayoral seat in the upcoming election.
However, the party addressed statements made by Labour Party leaders regarding Jews and Israel by suspending members for hate speech. The first suspension was of Naz Shah, who was suspended as a result of her posting anti-Israel materials ahead of her election into Parliament. Following the action that was taken against Shah, former London Mayor Ken Livingston, and current Labour Party executive council member came to her defense by stating that Adolf Hitler was a Zionist in his early career in politics. Livingston was then suspended as well, and the party became defensive regarding the accusations of being an anti-Israel group.
Unfortunately, the party continues to be plagued with members making public statements that are considered as anti-Semitic. May 2, 2016, two other Labour Party members were suspended for anti-Semitic remarks. City Councilor Ilyas Aziz made a statement via his Facebook account. The official stated that Isreal should have been created in America and that it could still be relocated to the United States. Salim Mulla, the second city councilor, whose statements cost him his place with the party, made the public statement that Israel was behind the ISIS claimed terror acts in Paris. Mulla also accused Israel of murdering Japanese prisoners that were being held captive by ISIS.
Prior to the mayoral election, where the Labour Party candidate Kahn is predicted to have an 88 percent chance of winning and taking the seat from the Conservative Party Mayor Boris Johnson. Kahn is not campaigning, but he is defending his group. The party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has stated emphatically that the group is, holds no prejudice against Jews, has also been seen as a sympathizer to anti-Semitic terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah. The plague of anti-Semitism that the Labour Party is experiencing could be what costs Kahn the election. The candidate happens to be a practicing Muslim and has no known connection to any terror group.
Labor Party leaders are rebuffing accusations that the entire party should be judged by a small percentage of members. With over two hundred thousand Labour members, the 12 instances of hate speech associated with the party cannot make the group intrinsically anti-Semitic, according to Labour party attorney Diane Abbot.
The Labour party is accusing their political enemies of running a smear campaign and trying to plague the entire party as anti-Semitic based on the rhetoric of a few. Abbot’s accusation of political maneuvering to hurt the strength of the party cannot be validated. However, before the election instead of campaigning, party leaders are focused on addressing the party’s stance on the anti-Semitic rhetoric by a few of its members. If these accusations of anti-Semitism continue to plague the Labour Party, it may cost them more than the current mayoral election in the future.
By Gichele Cocrelle
Edited by Cathy Milne
Ynet News: UK Labour Party suspends two over anti-Israel posting
Washington Post: Labour Party denies anti-Semitism in its ranks as vote nears
NY Times: Muslim’s Labour Party Candidacy Shapes London mayoral race
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