Shadow Justice Minister, Richard Burgon’s speech at a public meeting in 2014, video footage of which has now been brought to light, is nothing less than a diatribe, including the accusation that “Zionism is the enemy of peace.”
In the speech, uncovered and released by investigative journalist Iggy Ostanin, Mr Burgon, who would be Secretary of State for Justice in a Corbyn-led government, said that: “…the enemy — the enemy of the Palestinian People is not the Jewish people, the enemy of the Palestinian people are Zionists; and Zionism is the enemy of peace…”
Mr Burgon’s appalling comments evoke Stalin-era antisemitic propaganda. Targeted specifically at Jews in the Soviet Union who wished to emigrate to Israel and to curry favour in the Middle East, Stalin, and later other Soviet leaders in the 1970s and 1980s, were the originators of the antisemitic attempt to force Jews to denounce Israel by demonising Zionism and Zionists, and declaring the latter subversive traitors. At the Slansky trials in the former Czechoslovakia, Jewish leaders were executed for, among other things, the crime of being Zionists, as were hundreds of Jewish doctors in the so-called Doctor’s plot. This ‘othering’ of Jews, the vast majority of whom naturally believe that Jews should have the right to self-determination just like all other peoples, is the bedrock of modern far-left antisemitism, and was a technique absorbed by farleft groups in the West. Mr Burgon, along with Mr Corbyn are its modern flag-bearers, the latter berating British Zionists for their failure to grasp their own country’s sense of irony, while openly referring to a subversive “Zionist lobby.”
However Mr Burgon, the MP for Leeds East and also the Shadow Lord Chancellor, does not stop there: he said that all Labour Friends of Israel MPs should be asked to resign because of the military actions of Israel in Gaza. This would include Jewish MPs, and in making this request, he makes them complicit in the actions of the Israeli government. This is the kind of comment we associate with the far-right, but we now hear it from the mouth of the man aspiring to run Britain’s justice system. According to the International Definition of Antisemitism, “Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel” is antisemitic.
The closing line of Mr Burgon’s tirade is chilling. Not only, it is implied, should these Jewish MPs resign, for they are the “enemies of peace” but they must do it in the name of “all humanity”. For antisemites, a Jewish state — as Jewry formerly — constitutes a uniquely demonic blot on the world, a cancer that must be cut out to make the world healthy once again.
When asked about these comments by Andrew Neil on the BBC, Mr Burgon lied. When asked he said, by turns: “I didn’t say that”, “No”, “Well, I didn’t make those comments”, and “I would not have said it because it’s not my view.” We now learn that he was similarly evasive to the point of lying under oath in a court of law.
It is difficult to know whether Mr Burgon should be dismissed from his post immediately for his brazen lying or for his dissemination of antisemitic discourse in breach of his Party’s own chosen definition of antisemitism, but either way, he should have been dismissed immediately. In the view of Campaign Against Antisemitism, he should be suspended and subjected to a disciplinary process, but this is not a course of action available to a Party that has become institutionally antisemitic. In any case, Mr Burgon cannot be sacrificed, for to admit his own demonisation of Zionists was a fault, would be to expose Mr Corbyn’s own comments to the same judgement.
British Jewry is being subjected to an unexpected and unwelcome retrospective of Soviet antisemitism, demonisation, brazen lies and denials leaving other Labour MPs to look on, pausing only to wring their hands before returning to their seats in Parliament. Meanwhile, the shape of things to come for British Jewry should such a man become Justice Minister, a man who is subject to no justice himself, is ever more terrifying.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has begun pre-enforcement proceedings against the Labour Party following a formal referral and detailed legal representations from Campaign Against Antisemitism, which is the complainant. The pre-enforcement proceedings are a precursor to opening a full statutory investigation.
In recent months, eleven MPs have resigned from the Labour Party over antisemitism, along with numerous councillors and members.
Almost 50,000 people have now signed our petition denouncing Jeremy Corbyn as an antisemite and declaring him “unfit to hold any public office.”