Antisemitism in Modern Society

Part of Exiting the European Union (Agriculture) – in the House of Commons at 6:11 pm on 20th February 2019.

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Photo of Louise Ellman Louise Ellman Labour/Co-operative, Liverpool, Riverside 6:11 pm, 20th February 2019

This is a traumatic time. In the past three days, eight highly respected hon. Members have left the Labour party, citing the Labour party’s antisemitism as the key reason. The antisemitic abuse that I receive includes claims that I do not have human blood, that I am a racist supporter of child abuse, that I am a Zio, a Zionist shill and the Jewish Labour Movement’s bitch, that I accept the Israeli shilling, that I am prepared to sacrifice the Labour party in support of a foreign power, and much more.

That could never have taken place in the Labour party that I joined, but today’s Labour party is dominated by a hard-left faction that too easily embraces centuries-old antisemitic conspiracy theories couched in left-wing terminology. It struggles to recognise that it has a problem. Perhaps it is the problem. That is why the party finds it so difficult to deal with the deluge of antisemitism it has unleashed. If the term “Jew” is replaced by “Zionist”, today’s Labour party is perfectly at ease with anti-Jewish conspiracy theories. Even as the eight hon. Members left, they were accused of being manipulated and funded by Israel.

Why is Jackie Walker, who repeats Louis Farrakhan’s racist lies that Jews were the main financiers of the slave trade, still in the Labour party? How could Kayla Bibby be let off scot-free after downloading an antisemitic image from the website Incogman that presents Jews as

“Parasites responsible for financial heists of entire nations” and that is headed “Bloodsucking Alien Parasites Killing America”, the alien parasites being the Jews?

This is an abject failure of leadership for a party that aspires to government. No amount of reassurances from spokespeople can make matters right. In fact, they are insulting. Who do they think they are kidding? It is only action in drumming out the antisemites in the Labour party that counts, and there is little sign of that happening—unless, of course, the party becomes embarrassed by the public exposure of its failings. This is not just a problem for the Jewish community. It is about the nature of our society and the soul of the Labour party. Labour prides itself on being an anti-racist party, but a party that struggles to combat anti-Jewish hatred is complicit in racism. That is the reality.

Why am I still in the Labour party? I am not used to giving up. I still believe in the values that brought me into the Labour party 56 years ago—anti-racism, the struggle for equality, seeking the means to create a better society. I am still fighting, and I will not be hounded out. Indeed, I suspect that the leadership would be delighted to see all its opponents go.

I am encouraged by the support of the overwhelming majority of Labour MPs—Jewish and non-Jewish—and many members, including those in Liverpool. I am still battling for the soul of the Labour party as, with my Jewish and non-Jewish colleagues, I oppose antisemitism wherever it raises its ugly head.