JERUSALEM, Israel – The UK’s Labour Party suspended former leader Jeremy Corbyn on Thursday over his response to a scathing report about his party’s anti-Semitism.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report found that the UK Labour Party violated three parts of the Equality Act during Corybn’s nearly five years of leadership, including “unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination.”
The watchdog said the party’s leaders failed to confront anti-Semitism and showed a “lack of leadership.”
Corbyn on Thursday said anti-Semitism is “absolutely abhorrent” but claimed accusations “have been exaggerated” for political reasons. He also said that the watchdog’s findings were “dramatically overstated” and insisted he is not “part of the problem” of anti-Semitism in his party.
Labour officials responded by suspending Corbyn “for a failure to retract” his comments. The suspension will continue while the party investigates his remarks.
The current head of the Labour Party elected in April, Keir Starmer, said Thursday that there would be “no more denials or excuses” from party officials over anti-Semitism and “fully supports” his predecessor’s suspension.
“It is a day of shame for the Labour Party,” Starmer said. “We have failed Jewish people, our members, our supporters and the British public.”
The 130-page report found that there was “a culture within the party which, at best, did not do enough to prevent anti-Semitism and, at worst, could be seen to accept it.”
The commission found two cases of party leaders harassing Jewish people and their allies. The report said there were many other incidents of harassment by party members, but the Labour Party could not be held legally responsible because none of these members hold official positions in the party.
The report also found “evidence of political interference in the handling of anti-Semitism complaints” by the party leader’s office.
“Some complaints were unjustifiably not investigated at all,” the report said.
The commission does not have the power to bring criminal charges against the UK Labour Party, but made recommendations for change, which the party is legally required to enact.
Corbyn stepped down as Labour’s leader in December after losing terribly in the election.
Stamer has vowed to restore the trust of the UK’s Jews and fight anti-Semitism in his party. He also hopes to steer the party back to the center-left after Corbyn, a staunch socialist, promoted far-left policies.
Isaac Herzog, a former leader of Israel’s Labor Party and current chair of the Jewish Agency for Israel, applauded Corbyn’s suspension as “an important milestone in eliminating the scourge of hatred and antisemitism from a historic and important party in Britain.”
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