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Issues of antisemitism in Coventry Labour politics
Antisemitism within the far left ranks of Labour has shown its head again
Coventry councillor Christine Thomas (Binley and Willenhall) made the antisemitic slur ‘Jewess’ in a local party WhatsApp group. This comes after a long history of antisemitic behaviour within the labour party which recent leadership has tried to stamp out. Christine Thomas is to the left of the party and a fierce ally of Zarah Sultana MP (Coventry South).
The comment was made in a party WhatsApp group, where Cllr Thomas attacked a fellow activist for discussing Jeremy Corbyn and systemic antisemitism, and then proceeded to make the antisemitic slur ‘Jewess’ to describe the woman. The Equality and Human Rights report found institutional and systemic failures in dealing with antisemitism in the Labour Party. With this incident coming out in a press leak this adds questions about who else was in group chat, with Zarah Sultana suspected to have been the group admin.
Many are outraged at the slur and the Labour council’s hesitancy to remove the whip from Cllr Thomas. The leader of the Conservative group in Coventry council, Cllr Gary Ridley, said that this demonstrated ‘the casual culture of antisemitism in the Labour party’.
This raises questions of Zarah Sultana, the far left Corbynista MP. Sultana has a very controversial history with her previous support of ‘violent’ Palestinian unrest which leads to the death of Jewish people in Israel. She has also said that she would ‘celebrate’ the death of former Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu. These comments obviously create nervousness and anxiety within the Jewish community who worry about the protection of Jewish people internationally if people like Zarah Sultana are elected. She has since apologised for these old tweets and say they are no longer her views but if one of her allies is using antisemitic slurs in a group chat seemingly unchallenged then Sultana’s so called ‘evolution’ must be questioned.
Sultana’s association in Coventry South is having a ballot to see if Sultana should return as their parliamentary candidate at the next election. Being linked to antisemitism cannot help her chances when her association did not want her to be the candidate in the first place.
Coventry’s Labour council has come under fire for not calling out antisemitism in the past. In 2019 during the height of Labour division over the issue, Coventry Council was called to denounce Labour’s antisemitism but instead they just accused the Conservative Party of Islamophobia which appears to be petty and did not address the issues that the Equality and Human Rights report laid out.
Labour has a responsibility to rid itself of antisemitism and with the Corbyn wing of the party still upholding this behaviour then it is letting the Jewish community across the world down.
By Jack Dixon
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