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Antisemitism in Modern Society

Part of Exiting the European Union (Agriculture) – in the House of Commons at 4:22 pm on 20th February 2019.

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Photo of Barry Gardiner Barry Gardiner Shadow Minister (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Climate Change), Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade 4:22 pm, 20th February 2019

My hon. Friend is absolutely right that we are responsible for dealing with this. She will know there are procedures and committees within the national executive committee that deal with complaints and others that deal with other processes.

Let me be clear that anyone who denies the reality of antisemitism on the left, anyone who thinks that antisemitism is a legitimate part of criticising the political actions of the Israeli Government and anyone who says that complaints about antisemitism are smears on our party is wrong. They do not have the endorsement of the Labour party;they do not have the endorsement of its leader; and they need to take a long, hard look at themselves. They have adopted what Bebel labelled the “socialism of fools.”

Our party must call out this poisonous ideology, which encourages people to place the blame for society’s ills at the feet of the vulnerable and persecuted, whether they be immigrants, the unemployed, refugees or those from a different ethnic or religious background. The Labour party has long fought the dissemination of such false narratives, which we know serve only to divide us and distract us from our common cause of a fairer society.

Antisemitism, with its conspiracy theories, seeks to divide ordinary working people. The lies that it propagates about wealth, power and designs on world domination are as dangerous as they are stupid. Those on the far left who are foolish enough to believe that their antisemitism is a form of anti-elitism or anti-imperialism have no place in the Labour party or any modern political party.

Last year, a major study analysing news stories across the English-speaking world found that, according to every metric, fake news is more popular and more widely consumed than factual, accurate stories. We truly live in an era of fake news and imagined enemies, where explicit abuse hides behind anonymous avatars and where political debate is shaped by memes and viral videos. The rise of fake news is dangerous for is all, but this danger is most acute for the Jewish community and it is felt intensely. There are approximately 170,000 antisemitic online searches each year in the UK alone, but the scale of the challenge must not daunt us or deter us from what needs to be done.