John Mann’s Speech on Anti-Semitism in the Commons

“When my family helped to form the Labour Party in 1906, they suffered terribly because of that. The Jewish community in Leeds stood beside them and supported them. That is why I took on the role 13 years ago chairing the All-Party Group. I didn’t expect today when Labour members stand in solidarity with our Jewish colleagues and Jewish communities, to be targeted by an organisation called Momentum, which has happened to all of us who stood in solidarity, but worse than that that, explicitly targeting Jewish members of the Parliamentary Labour Party because they are Jewish. That is what is going on at the moment. I did not expect when I took on this voluntary cross-party role, for my wife to be sent by a Labour Marxist anti-Semite, a dead bird through the post, I didn’t expect my son after an Islamist death threat to open the door in the house as a school boy to the bomb squad. I didn’t expect my wife in the last few weeks from a leftist anti-Semite in response to the demonstration to be threatened with rape. I didn’t expect my daughter similarly to have to be rung up in the last few weeks by special branch to check out her movements in this country. No, I didn’t expect any of that.

“And I tell you the principles that we operated on. The very first speech that I made on this, 13 years ago in this chamber, that every party in this house should look after its own backyard first. And I have said that repeatedly on hundreds of occasions since and I have specifically in private letters to every party in this house, repeatedly challenged antisemitism in all parties. And for years action was taken, painful action and I am not sure people welcomed getting the letters and having the discussions with me in all parties, but that was the principle we operated on and we worked cross-party. And I recall that Jewish people used to say, “Is it true that there is a growth in anti-Semitism?”

“We identified 13 years ago the three forms of anti-Semitism. Islamist anti-Semitism, traditional right anti-Semitism and the anti-Semitism of the new left, all documented and discussed in here. It is not new. And those who say it is a smear, a smear, in raising this issue need to publicly apologise and publicly understand what they are doing and saying and the dangers.

“It does not end with me and my family, it does not end with British members of Parliament here, this stuff ends is what happened in Copenhagen, is what happens in Brussels, is what happened in France repeatedly including 4 weeks ago. People murdered because they are Jewish. That’s where this ends. You know this ends and this is the reality now.

“Last night in my constituency – it is constant, explicit anti-Semitism and then the bigger group. The excusers for anti-Semitism, the people who say this is something to do with who the leader of the Labour Party is and in challenging him. No it isn’t, in the 13 years I have been doing this, what Jewish people say to me now is different to what they said 13 years ago. “Is it true that there is a growth in anti-Semitism”, 5 years ago Jewish people would come up to me and say, “we’re concerned that there is a rise in anti-Semitism”.  I am stopped in the street everywhere I go now by Jewish people who say to me very discreetly, “I am scared”. Young people, old people, “I am scared”. You see what happened in France and you see what happened in Belgium and you see what happened in Copenhagen and then you understand why people are scared.

“People who are scared, young Jewish members to go to a Labour Party meeting with me because they are fearful of how they will be intimidated and threatened and how their identity will be challenged

“Any Jewish person is entitled to say and define that they are an anti-Zionist and I have no right to challenge that. Any Jewish person has the right to say, as the vast majority do, “I am a Zionist” and I have no right to deny them that and those that do are racists. And just that change in language by making the word ‘Zionist’ as a pejorative insult by the Labour Party, just that change, would alter the dialogue in this country in a very big way. We all have a choice on what we do, stand in solidarity with the Jewish members of Parliament under attack today, that is the role of Parliamentarians.”

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Categories: anti-Semitism, Jeremy Corbyn, Jewish communities, John Mann, News, Parliament