For most of the 20th century, most British Jews voted for the Labour Party. It seemed like a natural fit. This was a party that championed religious minorities, emphasized workers’ rights, and condemned anti-Semitism—all stances that appealed to a Jewish population that grew along with immigration from Europe. Yet now, a spate of anti-Semitic scandals is plaguing the left-wing party, and many British Jews are fed up with its leadership’s perceived failure to address the problem.
Frustration over the Labour Party’s handling of anti-Semitism within its own ranks dates back years, but reached a boiling point this week following two back-to-back scandals, one of which implicated the party’s own leader, Jeremy Corbyn. Last week, a Facebook comment Corbyn made in 2012 resurfaced, in which he defended a mural that was removed from London’s East End for its use of anti-Semitic tropes. By the artist’s own admission, the mural depicts a group of Jewish bankers playing Monopoly on the backs of the working class. Corbyn issued a statement Sunday apologizing for his comment, adding that he should have “studied the content of the mural more closely.”
I asked the Leader’s Office for an explanation about this Facebook post first thing this morning. I’m still waiting for a response. pic.twitter.com/DL8ynBtES4— Luciana Berger (@lucianaberger) March 23, 2018
The scandal prompted hundreds of people to gather outside parliament Monday in protest. Then, on Thursday, a leaked email suggested that Christine Shawcroft, the head of the party’s disputes panel, had lent support to a prospective Labour candidate who was suspended last week after being accused of anti-Semitism, including a social-media post that called the Holocaust “a hoax.” Shawcroft resigned from her role Thursday night.