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UK News Desk

Labour defies condemnation by 68 Rabbis

‘You’re a f***ing anti-Semite and a racist’: Veteran Jewish Labour MP Margaret Hodge launches astonishing Commons attack on Jeremy Corbyn

  • Dame Margaret Hodge confronted Jeremy Corbyn out of range of the cameras
  • Follows row over failure to accept widespread definition of anti-Semitism
  • Labour agreed to send out anti-Semitism code of conduct for new consultation
  • Comes after a letter from 68 British rabbis from across the political spectrum 

Jeremy Corbyn has been called a ‘****ing anti-Semite’ by a veteran Jewish Labour MP following a bitter row over the party’s failure to accept a widespread definition of anti-Semitism.

In an extraordinary intervention, former minister Dame Margaret Hodge confronted the Labour leader in the Commons after yesterday’s votes on Brexit.

The heated exchange took place behind the Speaker’s chair out of range of the cameras, according to the Huffington Post. ‘You’re a ****ing anti-Semite and a racist,’ Dame Margaret told him. ‘You have proved you don’t want people like me in the party.’

One witness said that Mr Corbyn replied: ‘I’m sorry you feel like that.’ A Labour Party source said: ‘She was aggressive, Jeremy was calm. Other MPs who were there were upset by it.’

Jeremy Corbyn has been called a ‘****ing anti-Semite’ by a veteran Jewish Labour MP following a bitter row over the party’s failure to accept a widespread definition of anti-Semitism

Jeremy Corbyn has been called a ‘****ing anti-Semite’ by a veteran Jewish Labour MP following a bitter row over the party’s failure to accept a widespread definition of anti-Semitism

Former minister Dame Margaret Hodge confronted the Labour leader in the Commons after yesterday’s votes on Brexit. The heated exchange took place behind the Speaker’s chair out of range of the cameras

Labour member Tal Ofer announced his resignation from the party when the decision was announced. He explained his reasons in a lengthy Twitter thread (extracts are pictured) 

Labour member Tal Ofer announced his resignation from the party when the decision was announced. He explained his reasons in a lengthy Twitter thread (extracts are pictured) 

Dame Margaret will now be referred to the party whips for possible misconduct. Mr Corbyn is expected to invite her to a private meeting to explain yesterday’s decision.

Dame Margaret, a former chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, is a long-standing critic of Mr Corbyn and was among the two senior MPs who triggered a vote of no confidence in his leadership in 2016.

She has been a relentless critic of Mr Corbyn’s stance on anti-Semitism and previously branded him the ‘poster boy of anti-Semites everywhere’.

The row came after the party’s leadership decided not to accept the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism – in defiance of Jewish leaders and its own MPs.

Labour instead updated its code of conduct to state that anti-Semitism is ‘racism’ and ‘unacceptable’, stopping short of several examples of anti-Semitism according to the IHRA definition, such as accusing Jewish people of being more loyal to Israel than their home country. The IHRA definition has been widely accepted, including by the Crown Prosecution Service.

At a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party on Monday, MPs and peers overwhelmingly backed calls for the full wording to be adopted.

Last night former Labour leadership candidate MP Chuka Umunna said the party's treatment of the Jewish community met the Macpherson report's definition of institutional racism

Last night former Labour leadership candidate MP Chuka Umunna said the party’s treatment of the Jewish community met the Macpherson report’s definition of institutional racism

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis warned that a failure to do this would ‘send an unprecedented message of contempt to the Jewish community’.

Why does the Labour document trigger new controversy?  

Labour’s new rules on anti-Semitism are based on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). The party said they are the ‘most detailed and comprehensive guidelines on anti-Semitism adopted by any political party in this country’.

But it has sparked further controversy, as it omits four behaviours identified as anti-Semitic by the IHRA, including:

  • Accusing Jewish people of being more loyal to Israel than their home country;
  • Claiming that Israel’s existence as a state is a racist endeavour;
  • Requiring higher standards of behaviour from Israel than other nations; and
  • Comparing contemporary Israeli policies to those of the Nazis.

But Labour’s National Executive Committee signed off its version at a meeting yesterday. Labour MPs took to Twitter to vent their fury. Jewish Labour former leader Ed Miliband said the party should adopt the full definition. He said: ‘The argument that it is somehow incompatible with criticising the actions of the Israeli government is wrong. The views of the vast majority of the Jewish community are very clear.’

Labour MP Ian Austin said the move was ‘utterly shameful’. He added: ‘I am ashamed to be a member of the Labour Party.’

Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson reportedly told the meeting: ‘Are we serious about dealing with anti-Semitism? We need to grip this issue and close it down. The people who will judge us on this are the Jewish community and rightly so.’

Labour officials drew up the code in the wake of protests by Jewish groups outside Parliament earlier this year and a steady drip of stories about anti-Semitism within the party.

The Jewish Labour Movement said: ‘The Labour Party has acted in a deliberate and offensive reckless manner in believing it understands the needs of a minority community better than the community itself.’

A Labour Party spokesman said the NEC had ‘agreed to re-open the development of the code, in consultation with Jewish community organisations and groups, in order to better reflect their views’.

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