Labour members face anti-semitism probes after Margaret Hodge targeted online

Labour members face anti-semitism probes after Margaret Hodge targeted online

Dossier compiled by Jewish Labour Movement contained 252 cases but vast majority found not to be members 

Justin Cohen is the News Editor at the Jewish News

Dame Margaret Hodge MP
Dame Margaret Hodge MP

Dozens of Labour members are being investigated as part of a new anti-Semitism probe after the Jewish Labour Movement documented abuse levelled at Margaret Hodge.

The JLM sent a dossier to the party after the former Labour minister was targeted online for calling Jeremy Corbyn an “anti-Semite and racist” to his face last week, prompting the party to threaten to discipline her. The altercation came after Labour adopted a code of conduct including the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism but reworked or removed four of the accompanying examples of contemporary anti-Semitism.

In the days afterwards, Hodge faced a torrent of abuse from members of three Facebook groups – We Support Jeremy Corbyn, Supporting Jeremy Corbyn & John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn — True Socialism. They included threatening remarks such as that she had “added herself to the hitlist” and also abuse that JLM suggested would not to viewed as anti-Semitic under the new code.

The Sunday Times – which published details of the dossier last week – has now reported that the dossier contained 252 separate cases, with the party processing them all within a week. It’s understood that a vast majority were found not to be Labour members.

But the head of complaints, wrote to JLM: “We have now processed all 252 names and identified those who are members of the party. These individuals are now being dealt with through the next step of our procedure for complaints for anti-Semitism.”

One member of Supporting Jeremy Corbyn & John McDonnell said Hodge was “damaging Labour in the interests of Israel”, while another suggested she was “under orders of her paymaster in Israel”.

The IHRA definition includes a Jew being accused of being more loyal to Israel than their home country as something that could be viewed as anti-Semitic. Labour’s code removes this from the list and simply says it is “wrong”.

A claim that she supports “the racist state of Israel”, contained in the group We Support Jeremy Corbyn, would contravene IHRA’s outlawing of claims that Israel’s “existence is racist endeavour”. Labour says it has removed this completely to promote free speech on issues around the Middle East.

Labour’s failure to heed calls from across the Jewish community to adopt IHRA with all its examples provoked widespread anger and sent relations with British Jewry plummeted to new depths.

Shadow cabinet minister Barry Gardiner told Jewish News this week that he wanted the NEC to adopt the definition with all the examples, before adding the “clauses necessary to make it enforceable rather than to appear to cavil and weaken the definition. Having to prove intent may indeed appear to weaken the definition, but if it does make it easier to evict vile racist anti-Semites from our party then in my view that can only be a good thing”.

To make clarifications afterwards. He argued changes were needed to make it easier to remove anti-Semites from the party.

Jewish News revealed last week that the party still had 50 outstanding cases to deal with, despite promises in April following talks with the Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council to clear the vast majority by the end of this month.

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