Labour 'witch-hunt' protest pushing 'fantasy conspiracy' over anti-Semitism - MP

A Labour member suspended over alleged anti-Semitism - who claims she has been targeted by Israel and because she is left-wing - is pushing "fantasy conspiracies", a senior MP has said.

Jackie Walker, who was suspended by Labour over allegedly anti-Semitic comments in 2016, claimed there was a "political reason" why she and others are being "undermined and discredited" as she joined a protest against a "witch-hunt" outside Labour HQ in central London.

But Labour MP John Mann, who chairs the all party parliamentary group against anti-Semitism, accused Ms Walker of pushing "tropes" and a "pack of lies".

He told the Press Association: "That's fantasy conspiracies, and that's part of the problem - some people look for alleged conspiracies when in fact they should be looking at themselves and their behaviour.

"Provide us the evidence, that's a very, very serious allegation to me.

Labour Against the Witchhunt protesters, with former Momentum vice chair Jackie Walker (centre right) outside a meeting of the party's ruling National Executive Committee in London, they are claiming members suspended over allegations of anti-Semitism are being targeted in a purge of the left and anti-Zionists. (Arj Singh/PA)
Former Momentum vice chair Jackie Walker (centre right) has suggested she is being targeted by Israel because she is anti-Zionist. (Arj Singh/PA)

"I think if they can't provide the evidence then clearly what they are saying is a problem, so they now have to provide the evidence, provide the proof of exactly what and how Israel has been involved.

"It's just a pack of lies, it's yet another trope - put up or shut up, prove it."

Ms Walker was also removed as vice chairwoman of pro-Jeremy Corbyn campaign group Momentum after questioning why Holocaust Memorial Day was not more wide-ranging to include other genocides, and saying she had not found a definition of anti-Semitism she could "work with".

She joined a "Labour Against the Witchhunt" protest outside a meeting of the party's ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) in central London.

Ms Walker, who says she is of Jewish and African descent, denied being anti-Semitic and claimed her comments had been "taken out of context".

She suggested her suspension was part of a purge of pro-Corbyn Labour members and an Israeli campaign against anti-Zionist activists.

John Mann : UK Parliament official portrait 2017. (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament)
Labour MP John Mann, who chairs the all party parliamentary group against anti-Semitism, told Ms Walker to prove her comments or "shut up". (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament)

Ms Walker said: "(The suspension) oddly enough coincides with Jeremy Corbyn becoming leader of the Labour Party.

"So apparently up until then, in fact not only was I not an anti-Semite, but I was on the streets fighting fascists and anti-Semites.

"And then suddenly when Jeremy Corbyn became leader, suddenly these out of context comments were picked up by the Jewish Labour Movement, etc.

"There's a political reason for that, this issue is a political issue and that's why people, particularly people in the membership, are so outraged at what's happening."

She went on: "And it's happening because, for example, with me, I'm a BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) activist - Israel made a very purposeful, open and public decision some few years ago, two or three years ago, that they would come after people like me.

"And they've put millions behind that campaign.

"Israel has targeted BDS activists and anti-Zionist activists and anti-Zionist Jews anyway, they will use whatever they can to undermine and discredit those people."

Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn during a meeting with NHS staff at Park South Community Centre in Swindon. (Andrew Matthews/PA)
Jeremy Corbyn has faced criticism over claims Labour has not done enough to tackle anti-Semitism under his leadership. (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Stan Keable, the secretary of the protest group, criticised Mr Corbyn for "keeping quiet" about "false" charges of anti-Semitism and called on Momentum to back automatic reselections of MPs.

"I've got a criticism of Jeremy, that he's stood back while all this is going on, while this witch-hunt is going on and the false charges of anti-Semitism is going on, Jeremy hasn't spoken up against it," he said.

"There's a political battle going on, he should have spoken up because the idea that criticising Zionism or Israeli policy and practice is anti-Semitic is absolute rubbish and he should have stood up against it."

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