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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 June 2018

Hundreds protest anti-semitism in British Labour party

A number of MPs attended the demonstration outside parliament, but party leader Jeremy Corbyn was nowhere to be seen

A protester holds a framed image of Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn and the words "For The Many Not The Jew" during a demonstration against anti-Semitism in the Labour Party
A protester holds a framed image of Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn and the words "For The Many Not The Jew" during a demonstration against anti-Semitism in the Labour Party

Hundreds gathered outside Britain's Houses of Parliament to protest anti-Semitism in the UK Labour party on Monday, days after its leader Jeremy Corbyn found himself at the centre of a racism scandal.

Leaders in the British Jewish community announced the rally on social media in a strongly worded statement on Sunday declaring "Enough is Enough", and despite only 24 hours notice, Parliament Square was teeming with demonstrators.

“We’re doing it for our own safety,” yelled demonstrator Josh Chapman. Another man held aloft a portrait of Mr Corbyn complete with the phrase "For the many, not the Jew", a play on Mr Corbyn’s own "For the many, not the few" slogan which came to prominence during 2017’s election campaign.

As the demonstration progressed, a number of Labour MPs joined from the House of Commons, protesting against their own leader’s perceived inaction against anti-Semitism.

A small number of Corbyn loyalists staged a counter-protest, labelling the accusations a “smear”.

The statement, released on Sunday, by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council, two of the UK’s largest Jewish organisations, said that “again and again Jeremy Corbyn has sided with anti-Semites rather than Jews… Jeremy Corbyn is the only person with enough standing to demand that all of this stops”.

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The recurring scandal of anti-Semitism within the British opposition party was reignited last week after it emerged Mr Corbyn had voiced support on Facebook for a contentious mural in 2012. On an image of a mural of Jewish bankers playing Monopoly on the backs of the poor, Mr Corbyn questioned why it was to be taken down by the local council.

Following the revelations, the Labour leader released a statement vowing to clamp down on the prejudice. "I want to be clear that I will not tolerate any form of anti-Semitism that exists in and around our movement.

"We recognise that anti-Semitism has occurred in pockets within the Labour party, causing pain and hurt to our Jewish community in the Labour party and the rest of the country.

"I am sincerely sorry for the pain which has been caused.”

Mr Corbyn also said he was planning to meet with representatives of the Jewish community, but critics were unconvinced, criticising his lack of action against those making anti-Semitic comments.

Stephen Pollard, the editor of the Jewish Chronicle, told Sky News that “there has been a consistent pattern of [Mr Corbyn] preferring the explanations of anti-Semites, to the explanations of the victims of anti-Semitism, there are reams of examples of this, I could fill the newspaper every week with page after page of this.”

Under Mr Corbyn’s leadership, Labour has been plagued by accusations of anti-Semitism. The party’s former mayor of London, Ken Livingstone was suspended last year after he claimed that Adolf Hitler was a Zionist.