By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal
LONDON (AA) – Britain’s Labour Party suspended its MP Chris Williamson on Wednesday after a video showed him saying the party had been “too apologetic” about anti-Semitism.
“Chris Williamson is suspended from the party, and therefore the whip, pending investigation,” a party spokesman announced the decision which came after intense pressure for tough action about his remarks.
The suspension came at a time the party has been under fire for alleged “institutionalized” anti-Semitism.
Williamson earlier apologized for his remarks. He said it “pains me greatly … that anyone should believe that it is my intention to minimize the cancerous and pernicious nature of anti-Semitism".
“I deeply regret, and apologize for, my recent choice of words when speaking about how the Labour Party has responded to the ongoing fight against anti-Semitism inside of our party. I was trying to stress how much the party has done to tackle anti-Semitism.”
Last week, nine Labour MPs resigned from the party citing alleged anti-Semitism.
The anti-Semitism accusations directed at Labour are not new but they grew after Labour’s success in the 2017 snap election, as the party’s votes rose 10 percent, attracting attention as an alternative to the current Conservative government amid Brexit uncertainties.
In a 2016 renewed leadership contest, following resignations from his shadow cabinet, Jeremy Corbyn secured his position as leader with 61.8 percent of the votes from party members.
A joint editorial published in July 2018 by The Jewish Chronicle, Jewish News, and Jewish Telegraph, appearing on the front pages of all three papers under the headline "United We Stand", described the Labour Party as the "natural home" for Britain’s Jewish community but claimed the party had "seen its values and integrity eroded by Corbynite contempt for Jews and Israel".
The latest row over anti-Semitism accusations by the U.K.’s Israeli lobby arose over Labour’s refusal to accept the full text of the working definition of anti-Semitism produced by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).
The party expressed concern over creating a code of conduct that could be “used to deny Palestinians, including Palestinian citizens of Israel and their supporters, their rights and freedoms to describe the discrimination and injustices they face in the language they deem appropriate”; however, it adopted the IHRA definition in full later.
Corbyn’s pro-Palestinian policies and denying support to U.S. and British military operations abroad have made him a target of right-wing media and opposition from within his own party.