Dame Margaret Eve Hodge (née Oppenheimer), the Labour party MP from Barking since 1994, on Tuesday night called party chief Jeremy Corbyn “a [expletive anti-Semite” in response to Labour’s National Executive Committee’s decision to uphold new guidelines on dealing with anti-Semitism.
The party’s ruling body’s new policy on anti-Semitism does state that “anti-Semitism is racism,” and as such it is “unacceptable,” but it does not follow the full definition of anti-Semitism determined by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).
“You’re a [expletive] anti-Semite and a racist,” Hodge told Corbyn in a closed doors meeting, adding, “You have proved you don’t want people like me in the party.”
Corbyn reportedly replied: “I’m sorry you feel like that.”
Back in June 2016, together with MP Ann Coffey, Hodge submitted a letter to the Parliamentary Labour Party chairman requesting a vote on a motion of no confidence in Corbyn.
The controversy over the new guidelines has to do with Labor’s omission of four anti-Semitic acts listed by the IHRA (see if you can detect a common theme):
Accusing Jewish people of being more loyal to Israel than their home country
Claiming that Israel‘s existence as a state is a racist endeavor
Requiring higher standards of behavior from Israel than other nations
Comparing contemporary Israeli policies to those of the Nazis
On Monday, 68 British rabbis wrote a joint letter to The Guardian accusing Labour of choosing to ignore the Jewish community:
“As British rabbis, it is with great regret that we find it necessary to write, yet anti-Semitism within sections of the Labour party has become so severe and widespread that we must speak out with one Jewish voice.
“The Labour party’s leadership has chosen to ignore those who understand anti-Semitism the best, the Jewish community. By claiming to know what’s good for our community, the Labour party’s leadership have chosen to act in the most insulting and arrogant way.
“It is not the Labour party’s place to rewrite a definition of anti-Semitism accepted by the Crown Prosecution Service, College of Policing, the Scottish parliament, the Welsh assembly, the National Union of Students, and 124 local authorities, including scores of Labour-held councils, including Haringey and Greater Manchester – but above all else, accepted by the vast majority of Jewish people in Britain and globally.
“On behalf of our communities, members and congregants, we urge the Labour party to listen to the Jewish community, adopt the full and unamended International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism including its examples, and like the organizations listed above, use the IHRA definition alone as their working definition of anti-Semitism.”
Margaret Hodge was born in 1944 in Cairo, Egypt, to Jewish refugee parents, Hans Oppenheimer and his wife Lisbeth. Hodge is very proud of her status as the daughter of immigrants. In 2015 she said: “I’m an immigrant … My father was German-Jewish and had a very heavy German accent, and I remember going home with a black boyfriend and being lambasted by my parents. I’ve grown up with the notion that immigrants very quickly become settled and turn their anger and hostility on the following wave. I get that in [the district of] Barking.”
Hodge is listed among the 99 Labour Friends of Israel.