Pro-Israel Group Pulls out of Labour Conference for Fear of Abuse

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 26: Protesters hold placards as they demonstrate in Parliament Square against anti-Semitism in the Labour Party on March 26, 2018 in London, England. The Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council have drawn up a letter accusing Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn of …
Jack Taylor/Getty

Labour Friends of Israel will not be holding a stall at this week’s Labour Party conference for fear that their staff will be subjected to antisemitic abuse.

The LFI had paid for a stand in the exhibition hall at the five-day long event starting this weekend in Brighton, but have pulled out at the last minute.

A spokesman for the group told The Sun: “The ongoing abuse of Jewish party members — highlighted by July’s Panorama programme — and the failure of Jeremy Corbyn to do anything to deter his supporters from engaging in it, means that we have decided it would not be appropriate for us to have a stand at Labour Party conference this year.

“Our staff have faced incidents of antisemitism in previous years and, given that the situation appears to have further deteriorated, we do not feel it is responsible as an employer to put them in this environment.”

The pro-Israel group, which was founded at a Labour conference 60 years ago, had pulled out of last year’s main event, with a source having told Jewish News in September 2018 that the stall had become a “magnet for conspiracy theorists and young staff members were put in uncomfortable positions”.

The group will continue to hold a reception, at which LFI will be able to control who can attend.

Jewish MP Luciana Berger, who has since left Labour to join the Liberal Democrats, required police protection at last year’s party conference following antisemitic abuse. BBC journalist Laura Kuenssberg also had to have security when covering 2017’s Labour conference after receiving online threats and sexist abuse from Corbyn supporters who accused her of bias against the far-leftist party leader.

Labour has come under criticism for a rise in antisemitism amongst members since the party was taken over by Jeremy Corbyn in 2015. The party leader has been accused of failing to take seriously accusations of antisemitism, conceding in recordings leaked in April that evidence of hatred of Jews in the Labour Party may have been “mislaid, ignored or not used”.

In February, nine MPs resigned over Corbyn’s handling of antisemitism accusations and over his inconsistent position on Brexit and three Lords resigning the whip in July. Pro-Brexit Labour MP John Mann, while remaining a party member, quit the House of Commons and became the Conservative government’s antisemitism tsar in September.

Last year, the Jewish human rights organisation the Simon Wiesenthal Center ranked Jeremy Corbyn and his party in fourth place in a list of the top ten antisemitic incidents to take place around the world, with the group writing that “Party leader Jeremy Corbyn stands directly responsible” for “injecting the world’s oldest hatred into the mainstream of society”.

While in May, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) launched an investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party.

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