A Labour Party councillor has been criticised for using the term “Jewess” in a local Party WhatsApp group.
Coventry City Council’s Christine Thomas, who was elected to represent the Binley and Willenhall ward, used the term, which is widely understood to be a derogatory slur for a Jewish woman, in reference to a conversation she had with a fellow activist regarding the antisemitic former Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn.
A screenshot from the conversation appears to show Cllr Thomas write: “I had [a very] interesting encounter with a [Jewess] at [a] conference. She was furious. She said it was a lot of crap set to discredit [Jeremy Corbyn]. She even said so from the platform. Saying that the Jewish Labour group did not speak for her. We have Jewish members in [Coventry] South. I know them well. Never have they ever said ANYTHING about antisemitic behaviour.”
According to the Jewish News, fellow Labour members have reported Cllr Thomas’ message to the Party’s compliance unit for investigation.
A fellow Party member said: “Cllr Thomas clearly seems to be supporting the view that the existence of widespread antisemitism in the party under the previous leader was just a smear.
“As for her use of the word ‘Jewess’, just why does she think it’s OK to use such an obviously offensive term?”
Cllr Thomas has since apologised for the message, stating: “The term used to describe a lady who follows the Jewish faith that I used is apparently regarded as a slur. I was not aware of that fact and I can assure you no such insult or slur is intended. Therefore if it has offended anybody I apologise for my ignorance in using an outdated term which is now frowned upon.”
The Labour Party was found by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to have engaged in unlawful discrimination and harassment of Jews. The report followed the EHRC’s investigation of the Labour Party in which Campaign Against Antisemitism was the complainant, submitting hundreds of pages of evidence and legal argument. Sir Keir Starmer called the publication of the report a “day of shame” for the Labour Party.
Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Antisemitism Barometer 2019 showed that antisemitism on the far-left of British politics has surpassed that of the far-right.
Campaign Against Antisemitism advocates for zero tolerance of antisemitism in public life. To that end we monitor all political parties and strive to ensure that any cases of concern are properly addressed.