A prominent Jewish MP in Manchester has met Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to press the party’s “particular responsibility” to tackle anti-Semitism and has been told to submit his ideas to an inquiry on the issue.
Ivan Lewis, MP for Bury South, said the meeting with under-fire Corbyn had been pre-arranged, and that he told the pro-Palestinian leader that the anti-Semitism crisis had already cost Labour council seats in the north.
“I made it clear that while the vast majority of Labour members are not anti-Semitic there is a serious problem amongst a minority which has to be tackled decisively,” said Lewis after the meeting. “I am hopeful robust action will follow.”
Lewis said the party had lost council seats in Bury as a result of a protest vote on the issue by former Labour voters, and that there was a “high level of concern in my constituency and across Greater Manchester” following several recent examples of anti-Semitism from people in the party.
“As the party of equality, anti-discrimination and diversity, Labour has a particular responsibility to demonstrate a commitment to zero tolerance of all forms of racism,” he said. “I presented Jeremy with a five point plan to restore confidence… Jeremy agreed to submit the plan to the inquiry.”
The past few weeks have seen Labour’s former mayor of London call Hitler a Zionist, as well as an MP who was revealed to have distributed graphics suggesting Israeli Jews be transported to the United States. Both have been suspended.
“I believe people must have the right to criticise the Israeli Government without being labelled anti-Semitic,” wrote Lewis on Facebook.
“However, Jews cannot be held responsible for the actions of the Government and attacks on Israel as a country, Israeli citizens and Jewish supporters of Israel increasingly include language and imagery which is anti-Semitic and deeply offensive.”