Corbyn row overshadows Labour report into party antisemitism

The leader of Britain's opposition Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn, speaks at the launch of a report into antisemitism within the Labour party.Reuters

The launch of a Labour Party report into antisemitism in the party has been overshadowed by fresh controversy after an MP was abused by a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn and the leader himself was taken to task for comparing Israel to ISIS. 

The inquiry was launched in April following the suspension of MP Naz Shah and former London mayor Ken Livingstone over claims of antisemitic remarks. 

However, Labour MP Ruth Smeeth joined the chorus of MPs urging Jeremy Corbyn to resign immediately after she was attacked at the launch of the report, alleging failed to intervene.  

"I was verbally attacked by a Momentum activist and Jeremy Corbyn supporter who used traditional antisemitic slurs to attack me for being part of a 'media conspiracy'," she said in a statement.

"It is beyond belief that someone could come to the launch of a report on antisemitism in the Labour Party and espouse such vile conspiracy theories about Jewish people, which were ironically highlighted as such in Ms Chakrabarti's report, while the leader of my own party stood by and did absolutely nothing."

Separately, Jeremy Corbyn has been criticised for appearing to compare the Israeli state with Islamic terrorist organisations, such as ISIS, in his speech at the launch of the report's results.

"Modern antisemitism may not always be about overt violence and persecution, though there is too much of that even to this day. We must also be vigilant against subtle and insidious manifestations of this nasty ancient hatred and avoid slipping into its traps by accident or intent," said Corbyn.

"Our Jewish friends are no more responsible for the actions of Israel or the Netanyahu government than our Muslim friends are for those of various self-styled Islamic states or organisations."

Sam Stopp, a Labour councillor in Wembley, said Corbyn had compared Israel to ISIS, writing on Twitter: "For that alone, he should resign. I am red with fury."

The anti-Semitism inquiry, chaired by former head of rights group Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti, reported that while the Labour Party is not overrun with anti-Semitism, but there is "too much clear evidence...of ignorant attitudes".

It reported that within the Labour party there is an "occasionally toxic atmosphere" and has recommended that members resist the use of Hitler, Nazi and Holocaust metaphors.

"Epithets such as 'Paki', 'Zio' and others should have no place in Labour Party discourse going forward," it said.

The inquiry has made 20 recommendations, but they do not inclue a approved a suggested lifetime ban for party membership.