Momentum vice chair Jackie Walker: Anti-semitism claims exaggerated to undermine Jeremy Corbyn
Momentum vice chair Jackie Walker has said there is "little hard evidence" of a major problem with anti-semitism in the Labour party.
Ms Walker, who is herself Jewish, said allegations of anti-semitism were being exaggerated to undermine Jeremy Corbyn's leadership of the party.
Mr Corbyn has been accused of failing to stamp down firmly enough on anti-semitic incidents, although he personally commissioned a review by Labour peer Shami Chakrabarti looking into the issue.
Ms Walker told delegates at a Momentum fringe event at Labour conference that although the Chakrabarti report had identified an occasionally "toxic atmosphere", suggestions of a serious problem in the party were wide of the mark.
"All racism is abhorrent and I'm not saying that anti-semitism does not exist in the Labour party...I am saying that claims of its significance are being exaggerated for political purposes and this has been done at huge cost to our movement,to our communities and to many individual people in and outside our party," she said.
"It seems to me there is little, if any, hard evidence that the Labour party has a major problem with anti-semitism, though there is, as Chakrabarti says 'an occasionally toxic atmosphere'.
"The most fundamental aim of such allegations, I suggest, is to undermine Jeremy, silence his supporters and ensure any chance of an alternative to the neoliberal diet of cutting services and taxes that has been dished up to us as politics until Jeremy got the leadership never actually gets to our table as voters."
'CRISIS' IN RELATIONS?
Her remarks contrasted sharply with the chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, Jeremy Newmark, who warned of a "crisis" in relations between the party and British Jews.
Mr Newmark clashed with Ms Walker, accusing her of perpetuating a "racist myth" with comments she made earlier this year that Jews were instrumental in the slave trade.
"I'm one of those people that have had to go knock on doors...as the relationship between our community has deteriorated.
"My experience and views on these issues are not shaped by dogmatic personal politics, they're shaped by many of those conversations I've had on the doorstep with Jewish members and former members, supporters and former supporters of the Labour party and it pains me to see a once historic natural alliance between this party and the British Jewish community dissipate, dilute and disappear."