Antisemitism in Political Parties

Rebecca Jenkins

 2019: Labour parliamentary candidate, Redditch

Incidents

  1. On 29th March 2018, Rebecca Jenkins reportedly shared a post on Facebook which included an image of the antisemitic Mear One mural, accompanied by the comment: “Where in this picture is it antisemitism?” Ms Jenkins added the comment: “Hear hear!”
  1. On 20th July 2019, Ms Jenkins shared a video on Facebook featuring an interview with the co-chair of antisemitism denial group Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL), Jenny Manson, following the publication of an advertisement signed by 60 members of the House of Lords, attacking Jeremy Corby over his handling of antisemitism within Labour.

    Asked by her interviewer about antisemitism within Labour, Ms Manson commented: [a] “there have been so many criticisms, none of which have been well founded. There is no evidence that the Labour Party harbours antisemitism any more than other parties; in fact, it harbours it less than some other political parties.” She continued: “This has been a story that was being considered if you repeat it enough times it gets some sort of truth; well, there isn’t any fundamental truth.”

    On the question of the peers who had signed the advertisement, Ms Manson said: [b] “These 60…peers are peers who have opposed Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership from the start, and therefore I feel doubtful about their motivations of them signing this advert today.”

    Questioned about notable defections from the Labour Party by peers and MPs, Ms Manson claimed that they had cited a variety of reasons for leaving, but highlighted the case of Luciana Berger, claiming: [c] “One of the MPs who left saying that she’d been hounded by antisemites, and it turned out they were from the far-right, and they went to prison for doing it. She never mentioned that these were from the far-right and not Labour Party members.”

    It should be noted that six individuals have been convicted of making antisemitic threats against Ms Berger, two of whom were from the political left-wing. It has been a regular refrain in groups seeking to minimise the scale of antisemitism within Labour, such as JVL and the Labour Representation Committee, that Ms Berger was not hounded from the Party, but left of her own accord.

    When her interviewer cited the high-profile suspensions of Naz Shah MP, former London Mayor Ken Livingstone, and Chris Williamson MP, Ms Manson stated: [d] “None of those three have said anything or done anything antisemitic at all…there have been false allegations against particular individuals.”

    It should be noted that Naz Shah MP admitted that the comments for which she was suspended had been antisemitic.

  1. On 11th November 2019, Ms Jenkins shared a post on Facebook which linked to an article entitled: “Jeremy Corbyn is the most smeared politician in history” about allegations of antisemitism and other matters. Claiming that the Labour leader was the victim of near-universal media bias against him, the article’s author dismissed the BBC’s 2019 Panorama documentary on antisemitism in Labour as being a “hatchet job”, and went on to add: [a] “Whilst anti-Semitism [sic], racism and Islamaphobia exists in almost every political party (and undoubtedly needs to be challenged at every level), if you take the care to look at Corbyn’s constituency work and history, even to suggest that he is in any way personally hostile to or prejudiced against Jews is almost laughable. In a political period where we have leaders and high profile politicians like Trump and Boris overtly making racist comments and failing to condemn racist actions, it makes the whole Corbyn smear seem even more absurd. Yet the mud sticks, and it keeps coming.”

    The post’s original author had commented: [b] “This is what happens when you threaten to make billionaires pay their fair share of tax from profits made from the Uk people into the Uk economy instead of hiding their billions in off shore [sic] accounts…The billionaires who own the media – attack with lies at every opportunity.. however the truth always stands tall in the end… & liars will go down and take their co-conspirators with them.”

Analysis

Campaign Against Antisemitism’s analysis is that Ms Jenkins’ actions and statements amount to breaches of the International Definition of Antisemitism and qualify as antisemitic discourse according to our methodology.

By sharing and supporting a post alleging that the Mear One mural (which is recognised as having used antisemitic caricatures) was not antisemitic [1], and by sharing a post in which Jeremy Corbyn was supposedly being “smeared” as antisemitic as part of a conspiracy involving “billionaires who own the media” determined to avoid paying “their fair share of tax” [3], in which Jews are necessarily implicated as “co-conspirators”, having been prominent amongst those making accusations of antisemitism against him, she was “making mendacious, dehumanising, demonising, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.”

Jewish individuals and groups have been prominent amongst those claiming that there is a problem of antisemitism in the Labour Party, and in doing so have made complaints about the actions and statements of individuals such as Ken Livingstone and Chris Williamson. Therefore, by sharing a video in which it is claimed that “none” of the criticisms made against the Labour Party with regard to its record on dealing with antisemitism are “well founded”, and that “there isn’t any fundamental truth” to accusations that it harbours antisemitism more than other parties [2a]; in which 60 peers condemning Jeremy Corbyn’s record on dealing with antisemitism (amongst whom were a number of Jewish peers) were dismissed as having political motivations [2b]; in which the Jewish MP Luciana Berger was accused of having been dishonest in claiming that she had left the Labour Party principally owing to antisemitic abuse [2c]; and in which Chris Williamson, Naz Shah and Ken Livingstone are all defended as never having “said anything or done anything antisemitic at all” [2d], she was deploying the so-called ‘Livingstone Formulation’, by accusing Jews who cite evidence of antisemitism of lying, conspiring or having deceitful motives in doing so, when there is clear evidence that there have been breaches of the International Definition of Antisemitism. In so doing, she was “making mendacious, dehumanising, demonising, or stereotypical allegations about Jews…”

Outcome

On 17th October 2019, it was reported that the Secretary of the Redditch Labour Party, who had reportedly worked for Ms Jenkins, had resigned from both his post and the Party after it was revealed that he had a history of antisemitic social media posting. Ms Jenkins reportedly declined to comment on the matter.

On 11th November 2019, the Guido Fawkes blog reported Ms Jenkins’ Facebook post in [1], noting that, on 23rd March 2018, three days before she made it, Jeremy Corbyn had expressed regret for his own comments about the mural, for which he had been criticised, saying: “I sincerely regret that I did not look more closely at the image I was commenting on, the contents of which are deeply disturbing and anti-Semitic [sic].”

We do not know whether disciplinary action has been taken by the Labour Party against Ms Jenkins, and at the time of writing, on 22nd November 2019, we have no record of any. Moreover, the circumstances and outcomes of any such action would remain unknown, owing to the conditions of secrecy imposed by Baroness Chakrabarti’s report on antisemitism in the Labour Party.

In November 2019, Campaign Against Antisemitism put this matter to Ms Jenkins, but did not receive a response.

Rating

Campaign Against Antisemitism has rated the Party’s handling of this matter as “bad”. Our rating system is explained in our methodology. This case was last updated on 4th December 2019.

Justice, justice, you shall pursue - צדק צדק תרדף
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