Calls for action in emotional anti-Semitism debate

Luciana Berger was applauded in an emotional Commons session – by MPs from all sides – after speaking of the abuse she has faced.

She recalled receiving her first piece of hate mail when she was 19 which described her as a “dirty Zionist pig”.

Ms Berger said she had been accused of being a “paid-up Israeli operative”, a traitor, an “absolute parasite”, and told to “get out of the country and go back to Israel”.

Calls for action in emotional anti-Semitism debate
Calls for action in emotional anti-Semitism debate

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Today I shared my own experience in the #AntisemitismDebate. You can watch my full speech here > >

— Luciana Berger (@lucianaberger) April 17, 2018

“One anti-Semitic member of the Labour Party is one member too many,” the Liverpool Wavertree MP said.

“And yes, as I’ve said outside this place in Parliament Square, and it pains me to say this proudly as the chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, in 2018 within the Labour Party anti-Semitism is more commonplace, is more conspicuous and is more corrosive.”

She added that Labour must expel those who hold anti-Semitic views and hit out at those who attacked her for speaking out whilst at the same time claiming to be both party members and online supporters of the #JC4PM campaign backing Jeremy Corbyn for Prime Minister.

“We have a duty to the next generation,” Ms Berger said.

Video:Jeremy Corbyn: I’m your ally

“Denial is not an option. Prevarication is not an option. Being a bystander who turns the other way is not an option. The time for action is now. Enough really is enough.”

Labour colleague Ruth Smeeth could be seen crying after Ms Berger’s remarks and was comforted by Wes Streeting, Labour MP for Ilford North.

Ms Smeeth received a standing ovation after recounting her experience – in defiance of parliamentary convention.

The MP for Stoke-on-Trent North read out a series of abusive messages, including: “‘Hang yourself you vile treacherous Zionist Tory filth, you’re a cancer of humanity’, ‘Ruth Smeeth is a Zionist she has no shame and trades on the murder of Jews by Hitler who the Zionists betrayed’, ‘Ruth Smeeth must surely be travelling first class to Tel Aviv with all that slush, after all she’s complicit in trying to bring Corbyn down’.”

Ruth Smeeth addresses the House of Commons

Video:MP sent ‘toxic’ anti-Semitic abuse

Bassetlaw MP John Mann told the Commons the campaign group Momentum had targeted him for showing solidarity with Jewish Labour members – with his wife “threatened with rape” by a “leftist anti-Semite”.

Dame Margaret Hodge was applauded after saying she felt like her party has “given permission for anti-Semitism to go unchallenged”, adding: “Anti-Semitism is making me an outsider in my Labour Party. To that, I simply say enough is enough.”

I never thought that I would experience #Antisemitism as a member of the Labour Party. But I have – and it has left me feeling an outsider in the party I have been a member of for over 50 years. To that I simply say, #EnoughIsEnough

— Margaret Hodge (@margarethodge) April 17, 2018

Ms Berger and other MPs also backed calls for former London mayor Ken Livingstone to be expelled from Labour.

Former minister Ian Austin said Mr Livingstone had been “comparing, claiming that Hitler was a Zionist” – branding this anti-Semitism “pure and simple”.

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Protesters gather in Parliament Square, Westminster

Video:Anti-Semitism protesters tell Corbyn ‘enough is enough’

Mr Corbyn was in the chamber for large portions of the debate, which saw Communities Secretary Sajid Javid accusing him of a “deeply worrying lack of leadership and moral clarity” on anti-Semitism.

A member of his frontbench team, shadow communities secretary Andrew Gwynne, acknowledged “much more work needs to be done” on anti-Semitism, adding: “No political party has the monopoly on vice or virtue but we will put our house in order.”

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