UK anti-Semitism row a systematic attack on Labour, Corbyn: Academic
Allegations of anti-Semitism against the UK Labour Party since 2015 has been a systematic assault to undermine the party’s freedom in choosing its leadership and decrease its popularity, a political commentator and academic in London says.
The attack on deputy leader of the Labour Party John McDonnel over his 2012 comments about Israeli crimes against the Palestinians was in fact meant to prevent him from becoming Labour leader in case incumbent Jeremy Corbyn is forced out from the leadership, said Jonathan Rosenhead, a professor at the London School of Economics.
“I think the attack on John McDonnel has to be seen in the context of what is going in Britain at the moment,” said Rosenhead.
“This is a systematic assault on the ability of the Labour Party to choose its own leadership ... The attacks on Corbyn which have been very intense are now spreading on McDonald,” he said.
John McDonnel has come under pressure from pro-Israeli lobbies to apologize for accusing Israel of genocide against the people of Gaza.
Rosenhead said the attack was mainly because Corbyn and other senior Labour leaders have repeatedly criticized Israel for violating the rights of the Palestinians, adding that those supporting Israel cannot tolerate to see Corbyn rise to power as prime minister.
“Principally ... Jeremy Corbyn is a supporter of the Palestinian people and their rights and has been over decades,” said Rosenhead.
“People on the right of the Labour Party or supporters of Israel ... is to see a potential prime minister who supports the rights of the Palestinians.”
The commentator said repeated accusations of anti-Semitism against Labour leaders are taking their toll, decreasing the party's popularity among some voters.
On Thursday, McDonnel defended his remarks during a 2012 speech when he accused Israel of perpetrating a “genocide” by attacking Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip.
The Daily Telegraph reported Wednesday that it had found a previously unseen video of McDonnel that shows him addressing a pro-Palestinian rally during Israel’s invasion of Gaza in 2012.
“Nobody can speak without expressing some form of solidarity with the people of Gaza as the children are murdered and the bombs are flying from Israel,” McDonnel said during an address.
“I think it’s absolutely critical now that we use every platform we can to expose what is going on, which is effectively an attempt at genocide against the Palestinians,” he added.