Chakrabarti: Better to make human rights arguments without referring to Nazis

It is better to make human rights arguments without referring to Nazis, the chairman of Labour’s anti-Semitism inquiry has suggested.

Shami Chakrabarti, who is shadow attorney general for England and Wales, chaired an inquiry into anti-Semitism in 2016, but the issue has continued to raise hackles, with Jewish Labour MP Margaret Hodge condemning party leader Jeremy Corbyn as a “racist anti-Semite” over the summer.

Speaking on Sky News’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday show, Baroness Chakrabarti was reminded of her report into anti-Semitism, where she said “it’s always incendiary to compare the actions of Jewish people or institutions to those of Hitler or the Nazis”.

Ms Ridge asked the Labour peer whether Mr Corbyn’s comparison of Palestinians being under Israeli occupation was acceptable under her own definition.

Baroness Chakrabarti said her aim was to guide people making “very important arguments” in how to do so without “just automatically getting people’s backs up”.

Defending Mr Corbyn as a “lifelong human rights defender” who was “quite right to draw people’s attention to the plight of the Palestinians”, she nevertheless stood by her advice.

She said: “I think that it is better, if possible – given the rise of the far right, given the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe – it is better to make those human rights arguments without comparison to the Nazis.”

Ms Ridge also pressed her on the re-election of Peter Willsman to Labour’s National Executive Committee despite a bizarre rant where he blamed Jewish “Trump fanatics” for the anti-Semitism row.

Baroness Chakrabarti said she stood by her previous comments that there was a real issue of anti-Semitism, even though some people would not have experienced it personally.

“Well guess what?” she said. “If you’re not Jewish you are not going to necessarily have personally experienced it and maybe you have been insensitive to it or maybe you are just speaking from your own personal experience.

“The thing about racism of any kind or frankly misogyny or any other kind of discrimination or hate, the thing about it is that you’ve got to try and listen to the broader experience.

“You’ve got to try to understand things that you have not experienced yourself and that’s what I was trying to advocate then and continue to advocate now.”

Adding she would “possibly” have felt more comfortable had Mr Willsman not been re-elected, she said people should be given the chance to “reflect and learn and change and be more sensitive”.