A Labour Party councillor has been reported to the Party after video footage emerged that seemingly showed him partaking in the antisemitic “from the river to the sea” chant at an anti-arms rally in Liverpool.
Sam Gorst, Labour councillor for Liverpool’s Cressington ward, is believed to have been one of the protesters leading the crowd on Saturday. At one point, the crowd can be heard chanting “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”.
The chant, “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”, only makes sense as a call for the destruction of the world’s only Jewish state – and its replacement with a State of Palestine – and is thus an attempt to deny Jews, uniquely, the right to self-determination, which is a breach of the International Definition of Antisemitism.
Labour Against Antisemitism said on Twitter that in light of Mr Gorst’s alleged behaviour at Saturday’s demonstration, as well as his reported membership in the now-proscribed Labour fringe groups, Labour Against the Witch-hunt (LAW) and Labour in Exile Network (LIEN), the group has reported the Labour councillor.
Mr Gorst released a statement on Twitter in response to the backlash of his supposed appearance at the rally which stated that his record “stands for itself” and that “bullies will always be bullies”. He added: “They will not break me with their nastiness especially when all I am doing is showing opposition to injustices of the world.”
Dame Louise Ellman, the former MP for Liverpool Riverside – who was allegedly branded a “disgrace” by Mr Gorst for quitting the Labour Party due to antisemitism – condemned Mr Gorst’s reported involvement and said: “I was appalled to see a Labour councillor singing Hamas chants about annihilating Israel. This brings the Labour Party into disrepute.”
It has also been reported that Mr Gorst was recently reinstated after being suspended from the Party for twelve months, though the reason is not publicly known. In 2019, Mr Gorst was cleared of antisemitism accusations, later claiming that he was the victim of a “smear campaign”.
It is understood that other speakers included former Shadow Chancellor and Labour Party MP John McDonnell, who it is believed used the occasion to call again for the whip to be reinstated to Mr Corbyn it was removed from him last year, and Maxine Peake, the controversial activist-actress who promoted an antisemitic conspiracy theory last year.
In May, Mr McDonnell tweeted a photo of an antisemitic sign which was featured at a rally that he himself attended. Last year, Mc McDonnell was accused of sharing a platform with expelled Labour members at the Labour Representation Committee’s Annual General Meeting, namely Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein, but he claimed that it was “ridiculous” to suggest that as it was an open meeting and that he could not control who spoke. He remains the Honorary President of the controversial group.
One of the main organisers of the Liverpool rally is believed to have been Audrey White, an activist who is being investigated for claims of antisemitism. At one point during the rally, Ms White reportedly said that “socialists in our Party, like me, like Chris Williamson” were being “witchhunted” as a result of the Party’s recent proscription of far-left groups.
We reported earlier this month that the Leader of Calderdale Council has refused to act against a fellow councillor who organised an anti-Israel rally where the same antisemitic chant was allegedly present, and in July, Hastings Council also reportedly refused to condemn the same antisemitic “from the river to the sea” chant.
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.
Image credit: Twitter via the JC