The Jewish Labour Movement has written to Labour’s chief whip urging him to suspend Chris Williamson MP for remaining silent at an event as an audience member reportedly accused Jews of being “foot-soldiers” for Israel.
In its letter to Chief Whip Nick Brown, the JLM said Williamson had “appeared to show contrition” in October last year, after a series of controversial remarks, but that “his actions since prove this not to be the case”.
In his letter, JLM chair Ivor Caplin drew attention to the Derby North MP’s appearance at an event in Liverpool on Monday, in which an audience member reportedly made the accusation that Jeremy Corbyn’s critics were “foot-soldiers” for Israel.
“To be silent in the face of anti-Semitism is to be complicit,” said Caplin. “There has been no contrition or attempt to educate himself.”
He added: “It is clear that Mr Williamson believes, contrary to Labour’s entire leadership, that there is no anti-Semitism in our Party, and that it’s all a smear, which in itself draws upon anti-Semitic tropes.
“The Jewish Labour Movement believes there is no other option but to indefinitely suspend the whip from Mr Williamson…. Holding the Labour whip is a privilege, not a right, and comes with expectations regarding behaviour.”
A member of Labour’s front bench under both Corbyn and Ed Miliband, Williamson has hit the headlines over Labour anti-Semitism several times, and at the event on Monday was reported to have said that he did not believe those who have faced disciplinary action for anti-Semitism were anti-Semites.