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WATCH: Labour MPs reveal horrific anti-Semitic abuse and declare 'enough is enough'

WATCH: Labour MPs reveal horrific anti-Semitic abuse and declare 'enough is enough'
5 min read

Jewish Labour MPs have spoken of the horrific anti-Semitic abuse they have suffered as they called on Jeremy Corbyn to do more to eradicate it from the party.

Luciana Berger and Ruth Smeeth received standing ovations from fellow MPs during a highly-charged Commons debate.

Ms Berger was also joined by Ian Austin in demanding the expulsion from the party of Ken Livingstone, the former London mayor who is currently suspended for claiming Adolf Hitler was a "Zionist".

Liverpool Wavertree MP Ms Berger, said she made "no apology for holding my own party to a higher standard" on anti-Semitic abuse after being attacked for raising the issue in recent weeks.

"My party urgently needs to address this issue publicly and consistently," she said. "And we need to expel those people from these ranks that hold these views - including Ken Livingstone."

She also revealed that she had been subject to a wave of online abuse since taking part in a demonstration against anti-Semitism in the Labour party organised by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council.

She said: "There are people who have accused me of having two masters, that have said that I am Tel Aviv's servant, that have called me a paid-up Israeli operative, who have said anti-Semitism of the worst kind - suggested that I am a traitor to our country.

"They have called me Judas, a zio-Nazi, an absolute parasite, telling me to get out of this country and go back to Israel."

Mr Austin, the MP for Dudley, said: "Let's be really clear about it: Ken Livingstone comparing, claiming that Hitler was a Zionist - this is anti-Semitism, pure and simple. It happened more than two years ago. There's been ample time to deal with it. It's a disgrace that it hasn't been dealt with. Kick him out immediately.

"We even had the Chief Rabbi speaking out - and still nothing's happened. It's a disgrace - (Shadow Communities Secretary Andrew Gwynne) should stand at that despatch box and he should tell the leader of the Labour Party that Livingstone must be booted out. Boot him out!"

Ruth Smeeth, the MP for Stoke-on-Trent North, read out examples of the vile abuse she has received since speaking out on anti-Semitism.

She said: "I’ve been the target of a campaign of abuse, attempted bullying and intimidation from people who would dare to tell me that people like me have no place in the party I have been a member of for over 20 years.”

"Last month we heard a plea - enough is enough. I stand here to say we will not be bullied out of political engagement, we are going nowhere and we stand and will keep fighting until the evils of anti-Semitism have been removed from our society."

John Mann, chair of the all-party group on anti-Semitism, said his wife had been threatened with rape by "a leftist anti-Semite" in the past few weeks, while Special Branch had had to track his daiughter's movements following threats.

He said: "I didn’t expect today, when Labour members stand in solidarity with our Jewish colleagues, to be targeted by an organisation called Momentum, which has happened to all of us who stood in solidarity.

"But worse than that, explicitly targeting Jewish members of the parliamentary Labour party because they are Jewish. That is what is going on at the moment.

"I didn’t expect, when I took on this voluntary parliamentary role, for my wife to be sent by a Labour Marxist anti-Semite a dead bird through the post, I didn’t expect my son after an Islamist death threat to open the door on his own as a schoolboy to the bomb squad. I didn’t expect my wife, in the last few weeks, from a leftist anti-Semite in response to the demonstration, to be threatened with rape. I didn’t expect my daughter to have to be rung up in the last few weeks by Special Branch to check out her movements in this country."

The Bassetlaw MP added: "Those who say it is a smear in raising this issue need to publicly apologise."

Tory MP Robert Halfon - whose father came to Britain in order to flee an anti-Jewish massacre in Libya - meanwhile told how he had been ordered to "go back to Israel" on a recent constituency visit by a "screaming" man.

And he warned  that formerly "unthinkable" anti-Semitic acts were "becoming increasingly commonplace".

"Anti-semitism is out in its naked viciousness for everyone to see and the air has grown tighter," he warned.

Mr Halfon: "I never imagined, because I always thought this was the greatest country in the world, my father was an immigrant here - he escaped from Pogroms in Libya - and I never imagined that one would ever feel the air tightening in this country."

Meanwhile, two of Britain's leading Jewish groups have snubbed an invitation from Mr Corbyn to attend a round table meeting to discuss anti-Semitism in the Labour party.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council said there was no point meeting him again until he had shown he was serious about tackling the problem.

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