Jeremy Corbyn has said Labour needs to “educate” itself on antisemitism as his party launched an educational webpage that hopes to help drive the issue out of the party.
Labour has provided members with “basic tools” to call out antisemitic stereotypes and conspiracy theories in an attempt to defeat the problem. The materials, on the party’s website, include guidance on how to avoid antisemitism when criticising Israel, and explanations of terms such as Zionism.
In an email to members, Corbyn said the Labour movement needed to “educate ourselves and each other to better stand in solidarity with and unite all those facing oppression and discrimination. That’s why we are launching education materials for our members and supporters to help them confront bigotry, wherever it arises.
“Over the coming months, the party will produce educational materials on a number of specific forms of racism and bigotry. Our first materials are on antisemitism, recognising that anti-Jewish bigotry has reared its head in our movement. Hatred towards Jewish people is rising in many parts of the world. Our party is not immune from that poison – and we must drive it out from our movement.”
He said the party must face up to the unsettling truth that “a small number of Labour members hold antisemitic views and a larger number don’t recognise antisemitic stereotypes and conspiracy theories”.
Corbyn said: “The evidence is clear enough. The worst cases of antisemitism in our party have included Holocaust denial, crude Jewish-banker stereotypes, conspiracy theories blaming Israel for 9/11 or every war on the Rothschild family, and even one member who appeared to believe that Hitler had been misunderstood.
“So please engage with the materials we are producing, which will be placed on a page on our website, along with other resources, so our movement can be the strongest anti-racist force in our country.”
It comes before a challenging week for the leadership in which the shadow cabinet will meet to discuss antisemitism before Corbyn faces MPs at the parliamentary Labour party.
The release of the webpage comes after Labour’s main Jewish group, the Jewish Labour Movement, wrote to every member of the shadow cabinet urging them to show “real resolve” to end what it claims is institutional racism against Jews in the party.
On Sunday, the first Westminster MP of Palestinian descent said the row over antisemitism was stifling discussion of Palestine. Layla Moran, a Lib Dem MP whose mother is Palestinian, said those in UK politics with antisemitic views should “clear off from the Palestinian quest for freedom and justice”.
Moran, the MP for Oxford West and Abingdon since 2017, said it was hard to write or talk about antisemitism and the Labour party’s handling of it without descending into deep despair.
She wrote: “This is having greater consequences than the Labour leadership can imagine. In particular, it is stifling the ability of commentators and decision-makers to talk sensibly about the real issues in Palestine.”
Describing herself as “a British-Palestinian who believes in Israel’s right to exist”, Moran said she believed the controversy was making it harder to talk about Palestine and the peace process at a time when efforts for a genuine solution were being hampered by Donald Trump’s “one-sided” plans.
“So, to all the vile antisemites out there: clear off from the Palestinian quest for freedom and justice,” she said. “Take your odious Jew-hatred elsewhere and do not think for one second that your views help champion Palestinian rights.”
The webpage launch followed accusations by the Board of Deputies of British Jews that the party was “letting off” people accused of antisemitism, after a leaked draft of its disciplinary process showed that some members could avoid punishment in serious cases where they had apologised and agreed to undergo education.
John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, told BBC Radio 5’s Pienaar’s Politics that he would accept the findings of an inquiry into antisemitism in Labour by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
He said: “I want it quicker actually, I need it speeded up. Let’s learn the lessons and then also work with the organisation to implement what recommendations they bring forward. On that basis I’m hoping we’ll get a clean bill of health but more importantly we can become much more effective at tackling not just antisemitism but racism, both in our party and society overall.”
He reiterated the message from the Labour leadership that the claim of some antisemites to represent Corbyn was not correct. He said: “The vast bulk of them are not Labour party members; some of them portray themselves as supporters of Jeremy Corbyn or myself. Let me make this absolutely clear to these vile creatures you do not do that in our name.”
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