HUNDREDS of people turned out for a Tuesday night rally in London to defend Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn against anti-semitism allegations linked to his support for justice for Palestine.
Writer Tariq Ali, Stop the War Coalition convener Lindsey German, Palestine Solidarity Campaign director Ben Jamal, Jewish anti-racist activist Rob Ferguson, Richard Kuper of Jewish Voice for Labour and British Palestinian human rights lawyer Salma Karmi-Ayyoub spoke at the event.
Ms German said she felt “quite upset” about the attacks on Mr Corbyn and the left in general.
She called it “absolutely disgraceful” that a “lifelong anti-racist” such as Mr Corbyn was being portrayed as anti-semitic.
Ms German said: "Racism and anti-semitism is growing and there is clearly a problem with anti-semitism within the Labour Party. Is it a huge problem? I don't think so.
"I certainly think it’s far less of a problem than Islamophobia inside the Tory Party when we’ve had Boris Johnson talking about Muslim women looking like letter boxes or Zac Goldsmith launching one of the most Islamophobic election campaigns against Sadiq Kahn.”
Jewish Voice for Labour, which organised the event, said that criticism of Israel is being conflated with anti-semitism “in ways that threaten free speech and the right to protest while silencing Palestinian voices.”
Mr Ali said: “On Palestine, Corbyn has been rock-solid. That’s why his opponents in and out of the Labour Party fear him.
“It is no more anti-semitic to oppose the oppression of the Palestinians than it is Islamophobic to oppose the Saudi Arabian dictatorship.”
The Labour Party has been under pressure to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-semitism, but Mr Ali argued that anyone who believes forcing Mr Corbyn into acceptance would solve anything was “badly mistaken.”
He added: “The person who wrote it has dissociated himself from it on the grounds that it would be used to curb freedom of speech.
“Its logic is to stop any show of sympathy or solidarity with Palestinians. Its immediate purpose is to weaken and discredit Corbyn.”
Pro-Israeli hecklers gathered outside the hall as people tried to attend the meeting, asking them if they were Jewish.
When one woman answered Yes, they reportedly yelled: “You’re a Corbyn Jew. You’re the kind of Jew that rounded up other Jews and sent them to the concentration camps.”
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