John Mann MP: Anti-Semitism – and how Labour racists threatened my wife with rape

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's stance on anti-Semitism came under fire in Parliament this week.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's stance on anti-Semitism came under fire in Parliament this week.
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WHEN my family helped to form the Labour Party in Leeds in 1906, they suffered terribly because of that. The Jewish community in Leeds stood alongside them and supported them.

That is why 13 years ago I took on the role of chairing the all-party group against anti-Semitism. I did not expect today, when Labour MPs stand in solidarity with our Jewish colleagues and with the Jewish community, not just no solidarity but to be targeted by an organisation called Momentum, which has happened to all of us who stood in solidarity.

But worse than that, there is explicit targeting of Jewish members of the parliamentary Labour party because they are Jewish. That is what is going on at the moment.

When I took on this voluntary cross-party role, I did not expect my wife to be sent, by a Labour Marxist anti-Semite, a dead bird through the post.

I did not expect my son, after an Islamist death threat, to open the door, when he was in the house on his own as a schoolboy, to the bomb squad.

I did not expect my wife, in the last few weeks, from a leftist anti-Semite in response to the demonstration, to be threatened with rape.

I did not expect my daughter similarly to have to be rung up in the last few weeks by Special Branch to check out her movements in this country.

No, I did not expect any of that.

I will tell you the principles we have operated on, from the very first speech I made on this 13 years ago in this Chamber: every party in the House of Commons should look after its own backyard first.

I have said that repeatedly on hundreds of occasions since. I have specifically, in private letters to every party in this House, repeatedly challenged anti-Semitism.

For years, action was taken, and it was painful action. I am not sure that people in all parties welcomed getting the letters and the discussions that they had with me, but that was the principle that we have operated on, and we have worked cross-party.​

I recall that Jewish people used to say when I held meetings: “Is it true that there is a growth in anti-Semitism?”

We identified 13 years ago the three forms of anti-Semitism: Islamist anti-Semitism, traditional right anti-Semitism, and the anti-Semitism of the 
new left. That was all documented and has all been discussed in here.

It is not new, and those who say that it is a smear to raise
this issue need to publicly apologise and to publicly understand what they are doing, what they are saying and the dangers. It does not end with me and my family.

It does not end with Jewish Members of Parliament here. Where this stuff ends is with what happened in Copenhagen, in Brussels and in France repeatedly, including four weeks ago: people murdered because they are Jewish. That is where this ends, and we know where history takes that. That is the reality now.

It is constant. This weekend in my constituency and last night in my constituency – it is constant. There is explicit anti-Semitism, and then there is the bigger group – the excusers of anti-Semitism, the people
who say: “This is something 
to do with who the leader of 
the Labour party is and challenging him.”

No, it is not — in the 13 years I have been doing this — and what Jewish people say to me now is different from what they said 
13 years ago when they asked: “Is it true that there is growth 
in anti-Semitism?”

Five years ago, Jewish people would come up to me and say: “We are concerned that there is a rise in anti-Semitism.” I am stopped in the street everywhere I go now by Jewish people saying to me, very discreetly: “I am scared.” Young people and old people say: “I am scared.” We see what happened in France, in Belgium and in Copenhagen and we understand why people are scared.

People – young Jewish members – are scared to go to a Labour party meeting with me, because they are fearful that they will be intimidated and threatened and that their identity will be challenged.

Any Jewish person is entitled to say that they are, to define themselves as, an anti-Zionist, 
or a non-Zionist, and I have 
no right to challenge them. 
Any Jewish person, as the 
vast majority do, is entitled to say “I am a Zionist,” and I have no right to deny them that.

Those that do are racists. Just a change in language – in the use of the word “Zionist” as a pejorative insult – by the
Labour party would alter the dialogue in this country in a 
very big way.

We all have a choice in what
we do. Stand in solidarity with the Jewish Members of Parliament under attack today. That is the role of Parliamentarians.

John Mann is the Labour MP for Bassetlaw. He is chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary group on Anti-Semitism and this is an edited version 
of his speech to MPs this week.