Speakers at a UK Labour event held on Tuesday dismissed the idea of antisemitism within the party, denounced the internationally-accepted definition of antisemitism and accused the “the State of Israel and its lobby” of a conspiracy to “smear the left” with “false accusations of antisemitism.”
Representatives of the group HOPE not hate, which campaigns against racism and antisemitism, attended the meeting of Labour Against the Witchhunt against the backdrop of the Labour party’s annual conference in Brighton.
Labour Against the Witchhunt is a far-left group founded to fend off accusations of antisemitism, oppose organizational attempts to deal with it and defend party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is seen by the majority of British Jews as personally antisemitic.
Among the featured speakers at the meeting were Jackie Walker, Ken Livingstone and Chris Williamson, all of whom have made statements widely viewed as antisemitic.
According to HOPE not hate, Livingstone, who falsely accused the Zionist movement of collaborating with Nazism, appeared to blame the increase of antisemitism on criticism of antisemitism, saying, “There has been an increase in antisemitism because all this media attention on it has led to real antisemites attacking people.”
Asa Winstanley, who was suspended by Labour for antisemitism, attacked the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism, which has been adopted by governments around the world, as “bogus.”
He then claimed, “The State of Israel and its lobby in this country uses a long-running campaign of false accusations of antisemitism to smear the left.”
Activist Jackie Walker, who was expelled from Labour over antisemitic statements, such as claiming Jews were “the chief financiers” of the African slave trade, attacked whistleblowers who appeared in a BBC Panorama documentary on antisemitism in the Labour party.
“The people in that ‘Panorama’ documentary know nothing about Jewish history,” she said, in a bizarre remark.
Chris Williamson, who was suspended from Labour after he said the party had “given too much ground, been too apologetic” on the issue of antisemitism, also charged that there was a conspiracy against Labour and its leader.
“It’s no coincidence that it’s Jeremy Corbyn’s praetorian guard who are being targeted,” he said.
He also called for the abolition of the party’s internal antisemitism watchdog, comparing it to the Soviet-era East German secret police force.
“I would tear down the compliance unit because we are a political party not the Stasi,” he said.
HOPE not hate tweeted of the event, “Tonight’s meeting is reminder of the desperate need to fight antisemitism on the left.”