Labour warned over antisemitism AGAIN as MPs turn on Israel
Israel-Gaza: Air strike destroys building in Gaza City
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As prominent members of the Labour Party joined protests at the Israeli embassy, antisemitism campaigners have recorded a surge in antisemitic incidents linked to the conflict in Gaza. Campaigners against antisemitism branded social media posts by some Labour MPs “ill-advised and ill-informed” as they urged all public figures to show restraint. This followed former shadow Chancellor John McDonnell announcing that he would be joining a march to the Israeli embassy tomorrow and urged his “Muslim constituents” to join him.
The ‘March for Palestine’ could see tens of thousands take to the streets in London this weekend calling for “an end to Israel’s violations of human rights and international law”.
Coventry South MP Zarah Sultana was among those who joined protestors in a demonstration outside Downing Street on Tuesday night in which demonstrators carried banners comparing Israel to Nazi Germany.
The concerns have echoes of the allegations of antisemitism that rocked Labour during Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership leading to the party being investigated by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
The warning over a new wave of antisemitism came as the Community Security Trust called for all Jewish community centres across the country to step up security as they recorded a “sharp rise in antisemitic incidents in the UK”.
As tensions continued to escalate in Israel and Gaza, antisemitism campaigners reported a surge in social media abuse with hashtags trending on Twitter like #HitlerWasRight.
There were reports of Jews being threatened and abused on the street and even schoolchildren being verbally abused by fellow pupils.
Yet scores of Labour MPs used Twitter to declare solidarity with Palestine and to condemn air strikes by Israel but failed to condemn the rocket bombardment of Israeli cities by Hamas.
Some took part in demonstrations where protestors held banners comparing Israel to Nazi Germany, while others called for sanctions against Israel or declared they would be joining tomorrow’s mass march on the Israeli Embassy.
Fiona Sharpe, spokeswoman for Labour Against Antisemitism, said: “Some of the social media comments from Labour MPs over the last few days regarding the situation in Israel and Gaza have been ill-advised and ill-informed. They have a duty to use their platform responsibly and they are failing to uphold that responsibility.
“We would urge all public figures to deploy caution when commenting on what is happening in Israel and Gaza and avoid tweeting anything that could inflame the situation and also endanger the Jewish community here in any way.”
Ian Austin, chairman of the cross-party campaign against extremism Mainstream UK, said: “Conflict in Israel leads to an increase in antisemitism in the UK, both on-line and in our communities.
“British politicians on all sides should be calling for a de-escalation of violence to avoid yet more bloodshed in Israel and Gaza.
“Instead too many Labour MPs are using social media to stoke tensions when they should be seeking to calm them.”
Labour leader Keir Starmer, came under fire on Tuesday for singling out Israel for criticism by tweeting that “Israel must respect international law”.
He issued a second tweet the following condemning both the “air strikes and rocket attacks” and urged the Government to act to “de-escalate tensions”.
But while the Labour leader sought to strike a more balanced tone, scores of Labour MPs posted their support for Palestine and condemned the actions of Israel but not the devastating rocket attacks launched by Hamas.
In its statement the CST warned antisemitic chants or placards could “heighten local tensions and potentially cause more antisemitism”.
However, in a tweet following the event, Ms Sultana said: “Today, outside Downing Street, we showed that the Palestinian people will never be alone in their struggle for justice. We stand in solidarity, today and always. #SaveSheikhJarrah #Free Palestine”.
In a second tweet she posted her “solidarity, love and …prayers to the Palestinian people” and called for an end to the “brutal attacks” of Israel.
Some Labour MPs sought to justify their support for Palestine by saying it reflected the concerns of constituents.
Under the hashtag #SaveSheikhJarrah, Ms Sultana insisted Palestine was the subject on which she received the most emails.
A tweet from Poplar and Limehouse MP Apsana Begum, also stated that Palestine was the issue she had been most contacted about since being elected.
She added: “Poplar and Limehouse is clear: our govt should be holding the Israeli Government to account on their actions.”
Naz Shah, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Community Cohesion, was accused of fuelling division as she made a number of incorrect statements about the causes of the escalating conflict.
In a video statement to the Foreign Secretary she called for sanctions on Israel and declared: “The longest military occupation the world has ever seen must end.”
Richard Burgon, chairman of Labour’s Socialist Campaign Group, led calls for sanctions against Israel.
He tweeted: “We need action from the British Government to put pressure on Israel to end its illegal occupation of Palestine its colonial settlements and the siege of Gaza. The Government should ban arms sales to Israel and impose sanctions for Israel’s violations of international law.”
Calling for a ban on arms sales to Israel, Brighton Kemptown MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle tweeted: “The Israeli government wish to be judged as a western democracy; I ask you if any European nation stormed places of worship and killed children at home in the fight against ‘terrorism’ would it be acceptable?
“We’ve an obligation to stand against the aggression of a highly armed state towards an occupied and impoverished one. “
The Campaign Against Antisemitism yesterday called for volunteers to monitor social media amid a huge surge in racist abuse on-line.
On Wednesday night protestors tried to gain entry to Chelsea football stadium before burning an Israeli flag outside.
Chelsea is owned by Jewish businessman Roman Abramovich who has championed a drive to rid football of antisemitism.
The CST urged the British Jewish community to remain calm but vigilant and report all incidents to the charity and the police.
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