British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. Photo: Reuters / Phil Noble.
The leader of Scotland’s Jewish community is demanding that the UK Labour party take action against antisemitism in its party’s ranks.
Ephraim Borowski, the director of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, told The Scotsman, “If Labour wants to be taken seriously as the party of equality, then the time for antisemitism denial must be over.”
Labour has been wracked by antisemitism scandals since far-left MP Jeremy Corbyn won control of the party in 2015, with Corbyn himself implicated in several of them.
Citing a “pattern of antisemitism” in Labour, Borowski said, “Once can be a mis-speak, twice can even be a coincidence but repetition over and again is a pattern from which you can draw inferences. It is very saddening to see that, but it’s a fact.”
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He cited the definition of “institutional racism” contained in the Macpherson Report, an inquiry into the racist murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence in 1993, and said the situation in the Labour party currently met that definition.
The report said institutional racism was “the collective failure of an organization to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their color, culture, or ethnic origin.”
“Labour could mark the anniversary of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry by looking at the definition of institutional racism, and seeing for themselves the ‘prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness, and stereotyping’ of Jewish people that is alive and well in the party,” Borowski said.
Borowski pointed to statements by Scottish Labour councilors Jim Sheridan and Mary Bain Lockhart. Sheridan said he had no “respect and empathy” for Jews because of their opposition to Labour antisemitism. Lockhart claimed the Mossad was conspiring to prevent a Labour electoral victory.
Borowski also mentioned Jewish MP Luciana Berger, who split from Labour to form the Independent Group partly due to antisemitism within the party.
“We’re getting these conspiracy theories again and again from Labour people,” Borowski said. “We saw that when MP Ruth George claimed that Luciana Berger and the Independent Group were financed by Israel. We saw that in the words by Councillor Lockhart about Mossad. Sheridan and Lockhart might have had their knuckles rapped, but nothing ever really happens. The Jewish community is looking for real action.”
He also asserted that the Scottish Labour party had essentially ignored the issue.
“Last year they said they wanted advice and assistance on how to handle antisemitism in Scotland, but despite Sheridan and Lockhart no one has been in touch and nothing has happened,” he said.