Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has denounced antisemitism in his own Labour Party, calling it a “truly shameful episode.”
Labour and its current leader Jeremy Corbyn have been beset by antisemitism scandals since he took the helm of the party in 2015. The issue reached a head earlier this year when Labour declined to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, and Corbyn himself was revealed on video to have made antisemitic statements. All three top Jewish papers in Britain printed a shared editorial calling Corbyn an “existential threat” to the Jewish community.
“This has been a truly shameful episode for the Labour Party,” Blair said in an interview with Euronews that was published on Sunday, “and it’s causing real difficulties for those of us who stay in the Labour Party and want to see it come back to sense; to see a situation in which the Jewish community in this country feel really alienated and worried and anxious and that’s a terrible thing to have done.”
“There is an element to this leadership in respect to this antisemitism question which I think is very difficult to reconcile with the proper principles of the Labour Party,” he added.
Blair partially attributed Corbyn’s antisemitism and anti-Zionism to his overall worldview.
“Antisemitism is one aspect of what is a deeper problem with the politics of Jeremy Corbyn and the people around him which is sort of a visceral anti-Western position,” said Blair.
“If you look at where they make their attacks, where they don’t make their attacks: they will attack people who support the West and they will basically defend people who are anti-West,” he continued. “In a way, their attitudes to Israel got kind of caught up in that bigger and broader argument.”
Blair’s successor as prime minister, Gordon Brown, also recently spoke up on the issue, telling a Jewish Labour Movement conference that the party must support “unanimously, unequivocally, and immediately” the full IHRA definition of antisemitism.
“I believe that the Labour Party will change the policy,” Brown stated. “I believe that the Labour Party must and should change the policy. And I believe this problem must be solved within the Labour Party now.”