David Miliband, the former foreign secretary, has called anti-Semitism “repulsive” and warned it must be exposed and defeated, amid growing controversy over attacks against Jews from within the UK Labour party.
Mr. Miliband, who narrowly lost the Labour leadership contest to his brother Ed in 2010, said the response to anti-Semitism “can’t be to turn away. It must be to engage, not to ignore.”
There was a duty to “highlight and expose the perpetrators and what they stand for. To fight and defeat their ideas”, he said.
Speaking at the annual dinner of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Mr. Miliband cautioned: “It should not be the Jewish community’s fight alone. It is everyone’s fight, everyone’s responsibility.” He added:
“And this is to me so important because there is a wider lesson as well. Just as the fight against anti-Semitism is not just for the Jewish community, so the Jewish community has something to contribute to the fight against all forms of discrimination.”
New Israeli Ambassador Mark Regev also addressed the dinner in his first speech since taking over the role.
Mr. Miliband, who is Jewish, did not explicitly mention the Labour Party but his comments came as the party’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn, battles accusations his party is home to many who feel free to make anti-Semitic statements without fear of retribution.
Mr. Corbyn, who has launched an internal inquiry into the matter, said on Sunday that any member committing an act of anti-Semitism would be automatically excluded from the party. Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, he said:
“Anti-Semitism is absolutely abhorrent and wrong. Anyone that commits any act of anti-Semitism, that makes anti-Semitic remarks, is auto excluded from the party and an inquiry follows immediately.
“We have suspended, we will suspend, any member that behaves in that way.”
As Breitbart London reported, a Labour councillor from Luton was suspended at the weekend after a message claiming that Hitler was the “greatest man in history” appeared on her Twitter account. Aysegul Gurbuz, 21, apologised for the post that appeared in her timeline although in the past it has contained other expressions of similar sentiments.
Back in February 2013, she is alleged to have approvingly predicted Iran would use a nuclear weapon to “wipe Israel off the map”, using the hashtag “TEAMAHMADINEJAD”.
Other tweets credited to her account include: “Adolf Hitler = greatest man in history” (October 2011); “#iwannameet Hitler” (December 2011); “If it wasn’t for my man Hitler these Jews would’ve wiped Palestine years ago. Sorry but it’s a fact. Not hating on Jews btw” (November 2012); and “The Jews are so powerful in the US it’s disgusting” (January 2013).
The ongoing problem of perceived anti-Semitism within the UK Labour Party comes as Jewish migration to Israel from across Europe has doubled in the last two years, with many more opting to flee to America and even Britain in the wake of a rise in anti-Semitic attacks.
Breitbart London pointed out in January, the ongoing exodus of French Jews alone comprises the largest trans-migration of Jews since the formation of Israel in 1948. Some 8,000 headed for Israel in 2015, while many others migrated to the UK or the US.
Last week, Jonathan Arkush, president of the Board of Deputies, called on Mr. Corbyn to take concrete action to tackle anti-Semitism within the party’s ranks. “It would be incomprehensible for Mr Corbyn to remain inert and refuse to take this form of racism in his party seriously,” he said.
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