Nazi comparisons abounded at a far-left demonstration outside Labour Party headquarters earlier today, with support for the antisemitic former Party leader Jeremy Corbyn on show and several references to antisemitism as a “smear“ campaign made by participants.
Among the speakers at the demonstration, which was observed by Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Demonstration and Monitoring Unit, were “notorious antisemite“ Tony Greenstein and the conspiracy theorist and Mr Corbyn’s brother, Piers Corbyn, both of whom made comparisons to the Nazis.
The demonstration was organised by far-left Labour activists who were protesting Sir Keir Starmer’s reported decision to purge the Party of “toxic” fringe groups, including Labour Against the Witchhunt, as well as to demand that Jeremy Corbyn have the whip reinstated after his suspension from the Parliamentary Labour Party.
One of the organisers of the demonstration was Labour Against the Witchhunt, which was set up to protest the expulsion of Labour members for alleged antisemitism and which opposes “the false antisemitism smear”. It is one of the groups whose members are reportedly threatened with expulsion from Labour.
Mr Greenstein, who was recently declared bankrupt by a judge after failing to comply with court orders to pay Campaign Against Antisemitism after his humiliating abortive defamation claim against us, was one of the speakers at the rally. In his speech, he referenced his past suspension for comparing Israel to the Nazis, in breach of the International Definition of Antisemitism.
Alluding to the “fake antisemitism campaign”, Mr Greenstein said: “I was told I was suspended for comments I’d made. They didn’t tell me what I’d said. But two weeks later, I read in The Telegraph and The Times that I had compared Israel’s marriage laws to that of Nazi Germany. So, I told my inquisitor, ‘Well, yes. The great political philosopher of the last century, Hannah Arendt, herself a refugee from Nazi Germany, made exactly that point’. So, let’s be clear. It’s not about antisemitism.” Mr Greenstein was also recorded giving an inflammatory interview at the rally.
Sheila Day, a former Labour councillor in Hove, said that a motion to boycott Israel that she had promoted was blocked on the basis that it would encourage antisemitism. Ms Day mentioned that she was advised that Jewish members may feel unsafe in discussion about boycotting the world’s only Jewish state, to which Ms Day recounted that remarked that she “doesn’t know how anyone can feel unsafe in a Zoom meeting,” and that if “they [the Jewish members] feel unsafe talking about Israel, let them go to Gaza and let them sit there with one of the women and one of the children that are being bombed, that are being starved, that are being mutilated, that are being oppressed like this.” Ms Day then confirmed that, while she had not been suspended, she was under investigation for allegations of antisemitism.
Greg Hadfield, a disgraced Labour activist who had reportedly been caught supporting Labour candidate Alex Braithwaite who was suspended from the Party for a series of tweets which included conspiracy theories about Israel and the Rothschild family, proudly told the crowd that he was suspended from the Labour Party for tweeting: “The State of Israel is a racist endeavour and always has been.” According to the Definition, “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination (e.g. by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour)” is another example of antisemitism.
Mike Cushman, a member of antisemitism-denial groups Jewish Voice for Labour and Labour Against The Witchhunt, also spoke. Mr Cushman has previously claimed that he has never observed antisemitism in the Labour Party and that the evidence on which antisemitism allegations are based emanates either from the Israeli Mossad or British security services, which he insists oppose the election of a Labour Government.
One speaker adapted Martin Niemöller’s “First they came” poem, which describes the guilt of not standing up to the Nazis in Germany as they persecuted minority groups, by instead referring to the perceived persecution of Labour Party members.
Two speakers, who stated that they were speaking on behalf of Labour members from North Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Constituency Labour Party, referred to the “false charges” of antisemitism whilst holding a sign that read: “NW Cambs & Peterborough Members smeared & silenced”.
Other signs included advocating for the opposition to the International Definition of Antisemitism and calling for justice for a group of eight Labour activists after the High Court recently dismissed their case that argued that an investigation into antisemitism-related allegations brought against them by the Party was unfair. Another sign alleged that only “informed Jews” were aware of the perceived actions of the Israeli Government.
The event attracted counter-demonstrators who bore signs that stated that Mr Corbyn is an antisemite. However, some far-left demonstrators made an effort to cover these signs up in an attempt to prevent them from being seen.
Towards the end of the rally, an anti-vaccination protest merged with the far-left demonstration. Piers Corbyn, who recently compared vaccinations to Nazi policy outside the Houses of Parliament after being arrested following a similar incident in February, took to the mic to speak about vaccinations.
Speaking about the Covid-19 vaccination and the lockdown, Mr Corbyn said: “You know what happened in Germany. The left there, they were begging Hitler to support them. They believed in Hitler. You know what happened. The rest is history…the Jews were labelled as a danger and were locked up.”
Mr Corbyn also gave an interview in which he denied that he, or his brother Jeremy, were antisemites.
The rally was intended to coincide with a major meeting of Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee, although the meeting is being held over Zoom rather than at the the Party’s headquarters where the rally was taking place. In addition to an anticipated vote on a purge of toxic groups and members, it is being reported that discussions will also be held over the Party’s dire financial state, blamed in part on the legal repercussions of the various antisemitism cases in which the Party has been involved. There will also reportedly be a vote on mandating that all candidates for elected public office representing the Part will be required to undertake antisemitism training provided by Labour’s Jewish affiliate.
A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “Groups like Labour Against the Witchhunt have no place in Labour if the Party truly wants to tackle its antisemitism problem, which is exacerbated by its deniers. This ban, if successfully introduced, will be a welcome and necessary step forward in detoxifying the Labour Party. There remains a great deal more to do to address Labour’s institutional antisemitism – represented by the cranks who attended today’s rally – but this policy shows renewed seriousness on the part of Labour’s leadership.”
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.