UK Labour MP calls Jeremy Corbyn ‘racist’ and ‘antisemite‘

UK Labour MP Margaret Hodge has vehemently defended accusations she made, blaming Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn of antisemitism and racism for allowing the party’s national executive committee to implement its own definition of antisemitism and for disregarding that of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

In an opinion piece written for The Guardian on Wednesday, Hodge – who is Jewish and lost close relatives in the Holocaust – referred to her accusations on Tuesday, saying she “chose to confront Jeremy directly and personally to express my anger and outrage. I stand by my actions as well as my words.”

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She said that “under his [Corbyn’s] leadership the Labour Party is perceived by most Jews, thousands of party members, and millions of members of the public as an antisemitic, and therefore racist, party,” adding that “as our leader, he is now perceived by many as an antisemite.”

UK media reported over the last few days that the MP could be facing serious internal disciplinary action by her party for her comments.

Labour’s new definition and guidelines on antisemitism omit important clauses from the IHRA’s definition – which over 31 countries have adopted – including comparing Israel’s policies to Nazi policies; claiming that the existence of the State of Israel is a racist endeavor; and applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

“I am a secular, immigrant Jew,” Hodge continued. “I have never been active in the Jewish community; my two marriages were to non-Jews. I have visited Israel a number of times and have been a vocal critic of successive Israeli governments on many counts. But I am a Jew. My grandmother and my uncle were murdered by Hitler.”

In her piece, Hodge said that with the new definition implemented, “a Labour Party member who calls Zionists ‘Nazis’ could face expulsion, but may find themselves merely warned. This means that in 2018 a party member can call a Jew a Nazi and might not face the severest punishment.”

Furthermore, she said, “We [Labour] are the last people on Earth, at this time, who should think about amending a widely accepted definition of antisemitism – a definition that already recognizes our right to criticize the government of Israel” –  because of the Jewish community’s distrust of the party.

The Jewish Chronicle, in an editorial on the front page of its Friday paper, lauded Hodge’s actions, describing them as an “extraordinary unplanned event [that] has indeed changed the dynamics [of politics].”

It also said that Jewish Labour MPs should quit the party and form a new bloc of independent Labour MPs.

“Dame Margaret Hodge’s confrontation of Jeremy Corbyn in a corridor of the House of Commons, calling him an ‘antisemite and racist,’ seems to have burst a dam,” the Chronicle wrote. “Throughout Labour’s descent into its racist sewer there has been an understandable reluctance in some quarters to confront the appalling reality that the leader of the party – and our nation’s most likely next prime minister – is indeed as Dame Margaret describes him.”

The paper wrote that “Corbyn has not merely presided over the party’s refusal to tackle antisemitism; he has been responsible for it.”

The Chronicle blamed Corbyn for drawing up a definition of antisemitism “specifically to enable as having loyalty to Israel above Britain, and to be free to attack Israel as a racist endeavor run by Nazis.”

“Dame Margaret has set in [motion] events which cannot be predicted with certainty,” it said. “But already Jewish Labour MPs and their allies describe a ‘civil war’ with the Corbynites and say that they are at the ‘point of no return.’”

UK groups representing the Jewish community reacted with “outrage” to the decision of the Labour’s national executive committee (NEC) to adopt a watered-down definition of antisemitism. The Board of Deputies, the Jewish Leadership Council and the Community Security Trust said in joined statement on Tuesday, “This is a sad day for the cause of anti-racism in this country.
Labour, for so long a party that put equality and inclusion at the center of its values, has today [Tuesday] decided to claim that it understands antisemitism better than the victims of this vile prejudice and to set its face against the clear views of the Jewish community.”

The groups said that this was a “deliberate provocation, built on misrepresentations of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism and double standards for the treatment of British Jews.

“The [Labour] NEC has chosen to disregard the views of the Jewish community, from every part of the community and even its own parliamentarians,” they added.