Activists react outside a meeting of the Labour National Executive Committee in London Tuesday Sept. 4, 2018 which is expected to decide on whether to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism and its examples, which has been the subject of a bitter row within the party over recent months. (Stefan Rousseau/PA via AP)

UK's Labour Party meets in bid to calm anti-Semitism crisis

September 04, 2018 - 4:13 am

LONDON (AP) — The governing body of Britain's main opposition Labour Party met Tuesday in an attempt to defuse a crisis over anti-Semitism that has caused a schism within its ranks.

Rival groups of protesters gathered outside Labour's London headquarters, as the party's National Executive Committee debated whether to adopt a definition of anti-Semitism approved by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

Labour's adoption earlier this year of a more limited definition — omitting some of the alliance's language around criticism of Israel — renewed claims that the left-of-center party has become hostile to Jews under leader Jeremy Corbyn, a longtime supporter of the Palestinians.

Corbyn says anti-Semitism has no place in the Labour Party, but some members think he has failed to stamp out anti-Jewish prejudice. Last week, veteran lawmaker Frank Field quit Labour's grouping in Parliament, saying the party had become a "force for anti-Semitism."

Corbyn has been accused of failing to expel party members who express anti-Semitic views and has received personal criticism for past statements, including a 2010 speech in which he compared Israel's blockade of Gaza to Nazi Germany's sieges of Leningrad and Stalingrad during World War II.

Critics have also condemned him for attending a 2014 wreath-laying to Palestinians whom Israel has linked to the murder of 11 Israelis at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Corbyn supporters accuse political opponents and right-wing media outlets of misrepresenting the leader's views.

Emotions ran high outside Tuesday's meeting, where rival groups of demonstrators shouted chants for and against Corbyn. Anti-Corbyn protesters held signs altering the party's slogan "For the many, not the few" to "Labour: For the many, not the Jew." The opposing group insisted that "Anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism."