Labour MP again claims anti-Semitism has been ‘weaponised in cynical and manipulative way’

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Labour MP again claims anti-Semitism has been ‘weaponised in cynical and manipulative way’

Jeremy Corbyn ally Chris Williamson has been strongly criticised for saying anti-Semitism has been 'used in order to wage a proxy war'

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

Chris Williamson MP
Chris Williamson MP

A Labour MP has reiterated his claims that the issue of anti-Semitism was being used in his party “in a cynical and manipulative way” — and that this was a position taken by “prominent members of the Jewish community who were “appalled” at the practice.

Chris Williamson, whose comments have been robustly deplored by the Board of Deputies, among others, was speaking in an interview on BBC Radio Derby on Thursday. The vice-president of the Board, Marie van der Zyl, was interviewed separately before the MP and said she believed his remarks were “offensive”.

The MP for Derby North told Radio Derby that “many Jewish members of Labour” felt that the issue of anti-Semitism had been “weaponised”, and that they themselves had never experienced any instances of anti-Semitism inside the Labour Party. He said he stood “in absolute solidarity with anyone who is a victim of anti-Semitism or other forms of racism, as the Labour Party has done. Anti-Semitism is repugnant and a scourge on society”.

But he went on to say: “What can’t be acceptable is where it is being used in order to wage a proxy war against the leadership of the Labour Party and Momentum.” He insisted: “These aren’t my words, these are the words of members of the Jewish community who are very upset about how anti-Semitism is being weaponised. I’m not speaking in isolation or making this up. I’ve been a member of the Labour Party for 41 years and I’ve never witnessed any anti-Semitism .”

Challenged by the Radio Derby presenter as to why he was getting involved in the issue, Mr Williamson said he had been asked a question in the course of a long interview with the Guardian. He then described anti-Semitism as “a political football” and quoted the Jewish Socialists’ Group as having been “shocked” at its deployment.

Marie van der Zyl told Radio Derby that the MP’s suggestion of “weaponisation” was “absolutely offensive. There is a failure to deal with the issue”. She said Mr Williamson had failed to produce any examples of those who were allegedly using anti-Semitism for political ends, and urged the presenter to ask the MP directly about them.


Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: