Labour probe into member who threatened to ‘punch’ Israel supporters

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Labour probe into member who threatened to ‘punch’ Israel supporters

Robert Atkinson, who said 'Ken Livingstone was the last progressive who could be bold and direct', apologised for comments about Zionists over Whatsapp.

Sir Keir Starmer (left) alongside former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn
Sir Keir Starmer (left) alongside former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn

Labour is looking into claims a a member threatened to ‘punch’ anyone who said it is antisemitic to denounce Israel as an apartheid state.

Chelsea and Kensington Labour member Robert Atkinson has come to the attention of the party over a series of remarks, including claiming “Ken Livingstone was the last progressive who could be bold & direct”.

It was reported in the Spectator  that he is alleged to have said in a Whatsapp message, Labour “allowed the Zionists to run rings round us for far too long’ and that he would ‘punch’ anyone who described as ‘antisemitic for denouncing Israel as an apartheid state.’”

It is understood, the party is looking into the matter.

Robert’s tweet

A Labour Party spokesperson said: “The Labour Party takes all complaints extremely seriously and they are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures, and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken.”

Robert Atkinson told Jewish News: “I can only apologise for the 2018 WhatsApp message, which I regret. I can’t find the WhatsApp conversation and therefore can’t see the context in which it was written but I can offer no justification, only an apology.”

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: