update deskAntisemitism

UK Labour Party suspends Chris Williamson for anti-Semitic remarks

“This is a man who has baited Jews and befriended Labour activists suspended or expelled over antisemitism for years,” said Gideon Falter, chair of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism.

U.K. Labour Party member Chris Williamson. Credit: Johnwhitby/Wikimedia Commons.
U.K. Labour Party member Chris Williamson. Credit: Johnwhitby/Wikimedia Commons.

Britain’s Labour Party has suspended one of its members, Chris Williamson, for saying the party has been “too apologetic” about accusations of anti-Semitism.

The decision was made by Jennie Formby, the party’s general secretary, who earlier this month said that it “is impossible to eradicate” anti-Semitism, and that it is “dishonest to claim to be able to do so,” even though she acknowledged that it is crucial to “eliminate the evil of anti-Semitism.”

A party spokesperson said “Chris Williamson is suspended from the party, and therefore the whip, pending investigation.”

Williamson was filmed as saying, regarding the anti-Semitism issue in Labour, “I’ve got to say, I think our party’s response has been partly responsible … Because, in my opinion, we’ve backed off far too much, we’ve given too much ground, we’ve been too apologetic.”

Williamson apologized in a statement, saying it “pains me greatly … that anyone should believe that it is my intention to minimize the cancerous and pernicious nature of antisemitism … I deeply regret, and apologize for, my recent choice of words when speaking about how the Labour party has responded to the ongoing fight against antisemitism inside of our party. I was trying to stress how much the party has done to tackle anti-Semitism.”

The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism expressed disapproval over how the party is reacting to Williamson, in addition to slamming him for his comments.

“Chris Williamson was just this morning let off with a slap on the wrist and even reportedly received a warm hug from the chairman of the Labour Party,” said the group’s chairman, Gideon Falter. “This is a man who has baited Jews and befriended Labour activists suspended or expelled over antisemitism for years.”

“It is outrageous that he is only being investigated now, and that it is only happening in response to a public outcry, including by other Labour MPs,” he continued. “The suspension of Chris Williamson under duress shows that the Labour Party no longer possesses moral initiative.”

Falter added, “Why would any member of the Jewish community have faith in Labour to investigate Mr. Williamson fairly, efficiently and transparently when his friend Jackie Walker has been under inconclusive investigation for almost three years? Jeremy Corbyn is an anti-Semite under whose leadership the once fiercely anti-racist Labour Party has become institutionally anti-Semitic.”

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