The British Human Rights Commission accuses the Labor Party of tolerating anti-Semitism. Corbyn describes this as “exaggerated” and flies.
The British Labor opposition provisionally expelled former leader Jeremy Corbyn from the party after he was offended by a highly anticipated EHRC investigative report on anti-Semitism in the Labor Party.
“Our opponents inside and outside the party as well as by large parts of the media have dramatically exaggerated the extent of the problem for political reasons,” said Corbyn on Thursday. His successor Keir Starmer reacted promptly and sharply: If someone considers the allegations against Labor to be “exaggerated” or an “attack”, “you are part of the problem and you should stay away from the Labor Party”.
A party spokesman said: “Referring to his comment and his refusal to withdraw it, Labor has suspended Jeremy Corbyn from the party and revoked his group membership.” An investigation is underway.
The internal party war is now breaking out at Labor, which the party had avoided since its election defeat in December 2019 and Starmer’s election as chairman last April. With the measure against Corbyn, Labor under Starmer shows the crackdown demanded by the EHCR.
The Human Rights Commission, which is allowed to make legally binding recommendations, had been investigating a complaint by the Campaign against Antisemitism (CAA) against Labor for harassment and discrimination for 18 months. Three violations of UK equality law are specifically identified in the EHRC report.
Labor first interfered politically in anti-Semitism complaints, secondly failed in anti-Semitism training and thirdly participated in the harassment and degradation of Jews. “It seemed to be due to a lack of willingness to take action against anti-Semitism instead of a lack of competence,” says the report – despite an alleged zero tolerance policy.
Despite positive developments in recent times, the new party leadership under Keir Starmer must do more to restore its credibility to the Jewish community, the public and many of its party members. The Labor Commission has set a deadline of 10 December to present a plan.
Out of 70 cases, which the EHRC singled out as examples, in 23 cases direct interference from the office of the management staff around Corbyn in order to sweep allegations of anti-Semitism under the carpet or to iron them down after they had caused a stir could be proven.
The party leadership spoke of an “unjustified lawsuit” when it came to the fact that Jeremy Corbyn had endorsed an anti-Semitic graffiti in which caricatured Jews with hooked noses played Monopoly on the backs of workers.
Members who raised complaints about anti-Semitism in the party were clearly disadvantaged, according to the EHRC – in contrast to dealing with complaints about sexual harassment, which the report uses as a direct comparison. Legal advice, such as sexual harassment, was not used on allegations of anti-Semitism.
In some cases, there was no response to complaints at all, even when the facts were clear. The complaints office also lacked a clear working definition of how to proceed and what to assess, as well as adequate training and sufficient and trained staff. In addition, in 62 of the above cases, significant documents were missing from the lawsuit.
For Derek Spitz, one of the CAA attorneys, one of the most important aspects of the report is the finding that it was illegal to portray people who made allegations of anti-Semitism as liars or as those involved in a plot.
Labor chief Keir Starmer called the EHRC report “comprehensive, rigorous, in-depth and professional”. Nobody thought it possible that the EHRC, which was set up by a Labor government in 2007, would one day condemn the Labor Party.
It is only the second such conviction by the Human Rights Commission at all. The first, for discrimination, was against the London police.