The Board of Deputies has hit out at a member of Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet who said the Labour leader had been the victim of anti-Semitism “dirty tricks”.
Jewish representatives reacted angrily after Shadow Fire Minister Chris Williamson said anti-Semitism allegations levelled at Corbyn were “bullsh*t” and “smears”.
In an interview with The Guardian, he said: “I’m not saying it never ever happens but it is a really dirty, low down trick, particularly the anti-Semitism smears. Many people in the Jewish community are appalled by what they see as the weaponisation of anti-Semitism for political ends.”
He added: “It is pretty repellent to use that to attack somebody like Jeremy Corbyn, who has spent his whole life fighting for social justice and standing up for the underdog… People have stopped listening to the smears and lies and dirty tricks.”
It is the second time in recent days that Williamson has made headlines, after suggesting there was some merit to having women-only train carriages.
The Board’s vice-president Marie van der Zyl said: “The Jewish community would expect a Labour MP and shadow minister like Chris Williamson to show solidarity with those suffering racism within his own party rather than blaming the victims.
“After a second failure on equalities issues in a week, the Labour leadership should consider whether Williamson is a suitable person to serve as a front-bench spokesperson.”
Speaking to Jewish News Chris Williamson said: “I absolutely did not and never would blame the victims of anti-Semitism or any form or racism and bigotry. Anti-Semitism is utterly repugnant and a scourge on society, which is why I stand in absolute solidarity with anyone who is subjected to anti-Semitic abuse. The point I was trying to make is that accusations have on occasions been used for factional or party political ends.”
A Jewish Labour Movement spokesperson added: “In the past two years there have been three inquiries into antisemitism in the Labour Party, one commissioned by the Leader of the Labour Party. For a member of the frontbench to claim there is no issue belittles the Jewish community and the Labour Party. The Jewish Labour Movement calls on Mr Williamson to reconsider his ill-judged comments”
Board of Deputies Vice President Marie van der Zyl said: “The Jewish community would expect a Labour MP and shadow minister like Chris Williamson to show solidarity with those suffering racism within his own party rather than blaming the victims. After a second failure on equalities issues in a week, the Labour leadership should consider whether Williamson is a suitable person to serve as a front-bench spokesperson.”
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