The antisemitism problem that is growing in the party

Naz Shah has been suspended by the Labour party pending an investigation. Earlier today Corbyn said he had accepted her apology, but it turned out that his acceptance wasn’t the only issue.

But later in the day, Labour announced that the Bradford West MP had been suspended, “by mutual agreement,” while claims against her were investigated by the compliance committee of Labour’s national executive committee.

The allegations centre around a 2014 Facebook post, in which Shah shared a graphic of Israel’s outline superimposed on a map of the US under the headline “Solution for Israel-Palestine Conflict – Relocate Israel into United States”, with the comment: “Problem solved.”

And Buzzfeed said its article about the party’s drastic editing of Shah’s apology was all wrong.

Sources close to Corbyn denied that they had edited an article in Jewish News, in which Shah apologised. It was alleged in an article on Buzzfeed that the article had been changed, to remove references to the wider challenge of antisemitism on the left but senior party sources insisted that was “categorically not the case”, and the only changes had been stylistic. Buzzfeed later accepted that this was the case and that “nobody in Jeremy Corbyn’s office or Labour HQ saw or edited the draft referred to in our [Buzzfeed’s] original story”.

Later, Shah issued a statement, by email, saying: “The statement referred to by Buzzfeed was neither drafted by me nor approved by me. This was a very personal issue which I felt required a very personal response.

“I had caused the offence, it was right that I wrote my own apology. I sent my final statement to the Labour party for information. At no point was it changed by my party.”

People are saying it’s about time Labour did something about antisemitism in the party.

John Woodcock, MP and former chair of the Labour Friends of Israel, said: “The handling of this has been a mess. But the most important thing is that the Labour leadership properly acknowledges now the scale of the antisemitism problem that is growing in the party.”

“This is abhorrent to our values as a party. It ought to transcend views on the leadership and wider party direction but unless and until it is gripped by everyone from Jeremy downwards it is going to fester and undermine everything we do.”

Shah’s suspension was the latest in a series of incidents which have raised questions about antisemitism in the Labour party. Former parliamentary candidate Vicki Kirby was recently suspended, after being re-admitted to the party following anti-semitic Tweets, including comments about Jews having “big noses”.

The latest involved the suspension of Khadim Hussain, a Labour councillor and former lord mayor of Bradford, who was put under investigation for sharing a Facebook post that complained “your school education system only tells you about Anne Frank and the six million Zionists that were killed by Hitler”. He has now quit the party.

There’s one more general paragraph about antisemitism in the party, and that’s it. Nowhere in the article is the likely source of much (or all?) of this antisemitism mentioned. Why would Khadim Hussain say a thing like that?

What a mess.

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