Jeremy Corbyn, Labour, and Accusations of Antisemitism

Jeremy Corbyn has come under renewed scrutiny this week regarding Labour’s tolerance of antisemitism after an MP claims he opposed the removal of an antisemitic mural in 2012.

Luciana Berger, Labour and Co-operative MP for Liverpool and Wavertree, condemned Jeremy Corbyn for a Facebook post he made in 2012 in which he opposes the removal of an East London mural.

The mural, painted by artist Mear One, depicted a huddle of bankers and businessmen playing a Monopoly-style board game that rests on the backs of naked people.

When Mear One posted the graphic to Facebook and complained of plans to have it removed, Jeremy Corbyn commented underneath: “Why? You are in good company. Rockerfeller destroyed Diego Viera’s mural because it includes a picture of Lenin.”

It is claimed that Corbyn was actually referring to ‘Diego Rivera’, a Mexican painter of political murals between the 1920s and 1950s.

Antisemitic endemic?

Since Corbyn took power in 2015, Labour has been criticised for the amount of antisemitic sentiment within the party. In 2016, Former Mayor of London Sir Ken Livingstone brought the party into disrepute when he suggested that Hitler supported Zionism.

Bradford MP Naz Shah was also criticised for her suggestions on social media in 2014 that Israel should “relocate” to the United States in response to the country’s ongoing conflict with Palestine.

Both Sir Ken Livingstone and Naz Shah were suspended from Labour and Corbyn appointed Shami Chakrabarti to chair a thorough investigation into alleged antisemitism within the party. Following Chakrabarti’s inquiry, neither Shah nor Livingstone were expelled. She found that while there was an “occasionally toxic atmosphere” with regards to antisemitism in the Labour Party, the problem was not endemic.

This latest accusation against Jeremy Corbyn has brought the party into disrepute once more. A spokesperson for the Labour leader has said that “In 2012, Jeremy was responding to concerns about the removal of public art on the grounds of freedom of speech. However, the mural was offensive, used antisemitic imagery which has no place in our society, and it is right it was removed”.

Against all forms of racism

Each time allegations of antisemitism are levelled at Corbyn’s Labour party, he has been clear in condemning it along with all other forms of racism.

Corbyn has since responded to the most recent allegations saying, “Labour is an anti-racist party and I utterly condemn antisemitism, which is why as leader of the Labour Party I want to be clear that I will not tolerate any form of antisemitism that exists in and around our movement”.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews, who are “The first port of call for government, the media and others seeking to understand Jewish community interests and concerns” have spoken out against Corbyn and have planned a demonstration outside parliament during a weekly meeting of Labour MPs.

However, the Jewish Voice For Labour (JVL), “a network for Jewish members of the Labour Party” have criticised the Board of Deputies for what they see as falsely claiming to speak on behalf of all British Jews. JVL has released a statement claiming that the Board of Deputies do not represent them “or the many Jews in the party who share Jeremy Corbyn’s vision for social justice and fairness”.

JVL has planned their own demonstration outside parliament in opposition to the Board of Deputies.

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