Jeremy Corbyn never replied to a concerned letter about revelations of deep-seated anti-Semitism in the UK Labour party, sent a month ago by Israeli sister party chairman Isaac Herzog, The Guardian reported. Herzog sent his letter after MP Ken Livingstone had been suspended from the Labour party at the end of April for making highly controversial remarks about Hitler and Zionism. Appearing on the Vanessa Feltz Show on Radio London last month, Livingstone said: “When Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel.”
Herzog wrote to Corbyn that he was “appalled and outraged by the recent instances of anti-Semitism by senior Labour party officials in the United Kingdom.” Herzog added: “I would like to take this opportunity, in the week leading up to Holocaust Memorial Day in Israel, to invite you to bring a delegation from the British Labour Party to Israel’s national Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem. By doing this, perhaps we can ensure that the anti-Semitism expressed in recent days is not the example to set to British young generation, but rather one of tolerance and acceptance of all people, regardless of faith.”
Herzog also commented: “As someone whose father served in the British army and risked his life fighting against Hitler and the Nazis, the views expressed by Ken Livingstone, the former Mayor of London and member of Labour’s national executive, in which he claimed that Hitler ‘was supporting Zionism before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews’ were particularly horrific, and unthinkable for a British politician and the 21st century.”
The Guardian cited an Israeli Labor party official who confirmed rumors in the London Jewish community that they had received no reply from Corbyn.
Wes Streeting, the Labour MP for Ilford North, told The Guardian, “It should be a matter of common courtesy to reply to a letter from the leader of one of our sister parties, particularly on an issue as important as tackling antisemitism. But this is fairly typical of the flat-footed and lackadaisical attitude that we’ve seen from the outset. It is simply unacceptable.”
Ian Austin, MP for Dudley North, said he was shocked that his party leader had not sent Herzog a reply.
Corbyn suspended Livingstone, a personal ally, over his comments, and established an independent investigation. He reassured his MPs last week that he was giving this issue a high priority.
Shai ben-Takoa laments France’s need to order Jews around. He also compares Holocaust denial with the abomination of the French-supported UNESCO decision that tried to Islamize historical Jewish sites in Jerusalem and offers a suggestion for what the UK should tell its Muslim population.
A group of Jewish families that included elderly people, pregnant women and children were taken off an EasyJet passenger plane in Barcelona waiting to depart for Paris, according to a report on the European Jewish Press.
One of the passengers, a Holocaust survivor, said the behavior of police who came to take the travelers off the flight was similar to that of the German Nazi SS police during World War II.
The families were removed after the plane had been sitting on the tarmac for more than two hours, waiting for departure. Many of the Jewish men were wearing kippahs, making them clearly identifiable.
They were returning home to Paris after having spent the Passover holiday in Spain, but were removed from the flight by armed Spanish police officers.
Despite the fact that the British-owned EasyJet flight was en route to Paris from Barcelona, the flight attendant chose to speak only Spanish when she told the Jewish group they were being removed from the flight.
When they asked her to speak in French, she declined, saying she could not speak a word in French or English.
One of the Jewish passengers, a 15-year-old boy, tried to use sign language, motioning with his hands to ask what was going on. In response the flight attendance called the Spanish Guardia Civil Police, a passenger told JPUpdates.
Another passenger, Franck Ben, described the nightmare in a French-language Facebook post, saying he and others felt like they were being treated like terrorists. Ben said the police tried to take away the teenager who had tried to communicate with hand gestures, but his mother intervened and would not allow him to be taken without her.
Placed under armed guard by the Spanish Guardia Civil Police — who were hardly civil — the frightened Jewish passengers were held for six long hours in a secluded area of the terminal without air conditions without being told why; nor were they told when they might be allowed to leave.
What really happened on EasyJet flight EZY 3920 from Barcelona to Paris
My turn to tell what happened on EasyJet flight EZY 3920 from Barcelona to Paris, [which was scheduled to depart] 1 May 2016 at 13:05 [1:05 PM].
May wife and two children (aged 3 and 1) and I boarded with more than 150 other Jewish people after a superb trip to Spain organized for the Jewish Passover celebration. We were all very relaxed, in good humor and cheerful.
Everyone was seated, with seatbelts on, the plane was on the runway. It was near takeoff.
During the security briefing [to the passengers], one of the flight attendants named OMAR allowed himself to say “CHUTT” in a loud voice [i.e., “shush!” in an implicitly rude manner] to an old person who was speaking quietly to his 15-year-old grandson, blasting instructions at him in Spanish and not English. The old man, not understanding Spanish, stopped talking.
I was seated at the front of the plane in seat 3C and I saw OMAR complain to the cabin chief about the bad behavior of a passenger; the cabin chief responded in English that they [would] see about that in Paris.
About 30 minutes later, the attendants complained over the microphone that a person didn’t want to secure her children and [therefore] we couldn’t take off. One of my neighbors offered to go speak to this family, as perhaps they couldn’t speak English.
This man got up and I saw him return a minute later telling me he didn’t understand: everyone was secured, there was no problem.
And for another 20 minutes, we waited. An attendant named Christina went back and forth with the one named Omar, and spoke constantly over the microphone in a hurried and [unhealthy; probably “unprofessional”] manner. She spoke in Spanish or a really inferior English, proclaiming that she didn’t speak a word of French.
Not understanding, a teenage boy of 15 asked with hand gestures “What’s going on? What are you saying?” while this Christina person spoke in the microphone in SPANISH, knowing perfectly well that not one passenger understood the language.
Then, with the passengers as a whole completely confused, after an hour of waiting the cabin chief and the captain decided to return [to the Barcelona airport terminal] to remove the teenager [from the plane].
After 20 minutes, the plane stopped next to 4 Guardia Civil vehicles [apparently next to the terminal].
A half dozen men climbed into the plane wanting to [take the 15-year-old for questioning]. His mother intervened, saying he was not an adult, if they wanted him to take him, they’d have to take her too. They [the men] refused. They wanted the young man, by himself.
The police not speaking a word of English, the language barrier was a real problem.
During this time, the captain remained silent, leaning against the wall, letting the situation deteriorate.
The family [of the 15-year-old, apparently] was trying to understand and explain, but the attendants were vile and heartless and demonstrated a really overzealous [attitude].
5 minutes later, a lady succumbed to a panic attack and fainted amidst the tension, panic, and crying of numerous children.
So I decided to go speak to the captain and ask him to make a decision and take managerial responsibility for the situation; he looked at me and said in English that he didn’t really know what to do and he didn’t want to take off if everyone wasn’t seated. An inadequate response in view of the situation with 250 agitated passengers [the real number would not have exceeded 180 on this flight. – J.E.].
Behind me, a man, the father of 6 children, raised his voice although without unseemly gestures or vulgar words, I tried to calm him down but the [heat of confinement in the plane; i.e., the emotional agitation] made the atmosphere electric.
The police made the decision to disembark everyone and to take us to a place in the airport apart from everyone else.
We had all been sequestered and left stuck (prohibited from going out to smoke a cigarette or stretch or get some air) in a room without air conditioning. We were very hot. The babies were red and hot and many of the mothers had nowhere to sit. They [the babies, children] were hungry and crying, as the parents had not expected to have to plan for a 9-hour trip, but only for 3. A pregnant woman was crying on the phone. Children ran around and cried, not understanding… An older person felt ill… It was a nightmare! All this while in the room, we were surrounded by Guardia Civil officers, with guns and batons, as if we were terrorists!
Yet there were only families and old people on this flight, we have proof of that with photos. Next, we waited 5 hours, from 1400 to 1900 [2 PM to 7 PM] in this room, in horrible conditions. Parents went to ask the Spanish law enforcement officers for information, and if they knew when we might [be allowed to board again]? And if there was a reason why were all stuck under guard in this room for an indefinite period? They [the officers] didn’t answer. One of the Guardia Civil men violently shoved a father when he went to ask a question… To document this, a woman began to record his violent actions. One of the men [i.e., a Guardia Civil officer] literally leaped on her, shoving her violently and taking her phone from her.
Around 1730 [5:30 PM], 12 Guardia Civil officers, batons in hand, forcibly took away a 40-year-old father of 6 with a kippa on his head who merely raised his voice a bit in requesting that someone explain to us [what was going on], help us in this situation.
I fully understood at that moment that anyone who didn’t do exactly as they said [i.e., the Guardia Civil officers] would be immediately set upon.
An old man [among the passengers from the flight], a Holocaust survivor, said of these [Spanish law enforcement] men, “These guys, this is what the SS was like during the Shoah.” Needless to say, they made us all think of the SS and the Gestapo.
We remained uncertain of when we would be able to get home for six long hours. In this room where we were stifled by the heat and weren’t allowed to leave. I think at this stage, we could call this nightmare a hostage situation. Sequestration in atrocious conditions. And we were helpless. We contacted [Assembly] Deputy Meyer Habib from there. He notified the Quai d’Orsay [the French foreign ministry] and [Foreign Minister] Manuel Valls. We also tried to contact France 3 [media network] and BfmTv from the room, without much success.
Finally, after six long and interminable hours, they decided to let us reembark, they assembled the passengers. They wouldn’t let the 15-year-old young man or his 70- and 80-year-old grandparents on this flight, or the 40-year-old father [i.e., the one who raised his voice]. [Those particular passengers] had to take another flight, scheduled for 2 hours later. More interminable waiting.
As we were reboarding, they stopped a young woman of 22 and told her that if she didn’t erase the videos and photos she had taken, she wouldn’t be allowed to fly. Her mother begged them on her behalf. They [the authorities] kept our passports and ID cards so they could threaten us that way.
It was my turn to board, and at that point, to my great surprise, I was denied boarding, for the sole reason that the captain asked something of the police [apparently about the narrator].
I went to see the police officers at the departure point, who promised to see the captain and let him know I’d rather help them all out by translating between English and French [i.e., speak to the captain directly], but the captain didn’t want to hear about it.
The policeman said quietly in my ear: here, we are under the captain’s order, if he doesn’t want you, you don’t go.
My wife would have to travel alone, 5 months pregnant and with two children 1 and 3 years old.
She [melted down, basically – panicked, screamed, cried] but they came back again to look for me [apparently with batons out].
At 5 months along, any shock or major stress could be fatal for the baby.
Seeing that I remained calm and impassive, 5 officers went again to explain my situation and that of my wife to the captain who apparently didn’t have the guts to make a sensible decision all day, but fortunately, I was allowed on the flight at the last minute.
Entering into the plane, the flight crew had changed out, one attendant spoke excellent French, the two others fluent English and everything went fine with them. Needless to say, what we had just lived through was shocking and traumatic for each one of us. Let it not be forgotten that the 250 passengers [it was actually 180 max] were women, children, parents, old people, babies, etc. There could hardly be anyone more inoffensive! And we were treated like common animals.
Having arrived 2 May in Paris, my wife had a visit with the gynecologist and the verdict came down, a situation like this put the health of our future child in grave danger.
I am lodging today a complaint against EasyJet for discrimination suffered during flight EZY 3920.
It is obvious to anyone who reads the above account of Alain Sayada (translated by J.E.Dyer) that the incident demands investigation by the governments of Spain, France and Britain, all of whose nationals were involved in this Entebbe-like affair.
A spokesperson for the British-based EasyJet airline confirmed the veracity of the incident.
“We would like to apologize to customers for the inconvenience and the delay,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “The safety and well-being of passengers and crew is always EasyJet’s priority.” Police were called, the statement added, “due to a group of passengers behaving in a disruptive manner.” JPUpdates asked the airline about the allegations of the families regarding their separation due to their faith.
The response of the airline’s spokesperson is illuminating: “All of our staff are carefully selected and undergo a rigorous training program to maintain our high level of customer care. To confirm, we have a zero tolerance towards discrimination of any kind.”
EasyJet is a British low-cost airline based at London Luton Airport. It may be of interest to note that Luton’s Labour councilor Aaysegul Gurbuz, 20, was suspended last month over claims that she called Adolf Hitler ‘the greatest man in history,’ according to the April 9, 2016 edition of the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper.
Gurbuz is accused of posting a number of anti-Semitic tweets between 2011 and 2014, including one in 2013 that said ‘the Jews are so powerful in the U.S. It’s disgusting.’
Sadiq Khan (Labour) was sworn in as London’s first Muslim mayor on Saturday, having beaten Conservative billionaire Zac Goldsmith by a wide margin of 1,310,143 to 994,614 votes. It was a rare glimpse of sunshine for the Labour party, which has been enduring a string of defeats in both national and local elections over the past year, including a massive loss in local councils and in the Scottish parliament Thursday.
Mayor Khan, 46, was born in London to a working-class British Pakistani family. A Member of Parliament for Tooting since 2005 and a member of the Labour Party, he is a social democrat.
Jeremy Corbyn did not attend London’s Muslim mayor’s swearing-in ceremony. Khan had not supported Corbyn for the role of Labour party leader, voting instead for Andy Burnham. He distanced himself from Corbyn, and as mayoral candidate criticized Corbyn’s friendship with Hamas and Hezbollah, saying it gave Labour an “anti-Jewish” image. Khan also slammed Corbyn for not singing the national anthem last September. Corbyn, an anti-Royalist, stood in silence while God Save our Gracious Queen was played during a Battle of Britain remembrance ceremony at St Paul’s Cathedral attended by the Prime Minister, Defense Secretary and military leaders. “He was very unwise. You are trying to be the British prime minister,” Khan told reporters at the time.
“I can’t quite believe the last 24 hours,” Khan told his supporters at his swearing-in ceremony at London’s Southwark Cathedral. “I’m determined to lead the most transparent, engaged and accessible administration London has ever seen, and to represent every single community and every single part of our city as mayor for Londoners,” he said.
Goldsmith, as well as Prime Minister David Cameron, repeatedly accused Khan of offering “platform, oxygen and cover” to religious and political extremists, including known anti-Semites such as Suliman Gani, a south London Islamic leader. Khan also attended a conference that was addressed by Yasser al-Siri, a convicted terrorist, and Sajeel Abu Ibrahim, a member of the now banned al-Muhajiroun group, which trained and activated the July 7, 2005 bomber Mohammad Sidique Khan.
Jewish Human Rights Watch (JHRW) has taken Swansea, Gwyneedd and Leicester councils to the High Court in London, alleging their boycott of Israeli goods is anti-Semitic and violates the 2010 Equality Act.
The group noted on their Facebook page: “We’re in the #HighCourt today and tomorrow about The Labour Party’s Leicester City Council & City and County of Swansea & Gwynedd Council’s #Antisemitic #Boycott motions. We’ll keep you updated as soon as we hear anything.”
Several local councils across the UK voted to boycott Israeli goods after 2009, when Israel refused to embrace the Hamas’ need to shoot rockets at its civilian population.
In 2010, Swansea council was seeking contracts with Veolia, a company connected to a project building a light railway in eastern Jerusalem. But then a motion was put before the council stating the project “not only contravenes UN demands but is in contravention of international law,” since the UN “has demanded that Israeli settlement activities and occupation should not be supported.”
Several council members called on the council to not do business with “any company in breach of international law or UN obligations or demands, so long as to do so would not be in breach of any relevant legislation.” The motion was approved.
Andrew Sharland, an attorney for Leicester’s council, which in 2014 approved a similar boycott of Israeli goods, said the JHRW is trying to “stifle criticisms of Israel.”
“What this challenge really concerns is criticism of the State of Israel, and the claimant’s desire to suppress it,” he said.
Following the 2014 vote, JHRW issued a statement saying, “Leicester City Council has taken steps down an anti-Semitic path under the guise of helping community relations in Leicester. Frankly this amounts to a get-of-out-town order to Leicester Jews.”
In 2014, Gwynedd council also passed a motion calling for a trade embargo against Israel, condemning the “attacks by the Israeli state on the territory of the Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip.” Just to make sure they did not come across as anti-Semites, Gwynedd council added, “It must be made clear that the proposal condemned the Israeli state and not the Jewish religion.”
The British government earlier this year issued guidelines for public authorities which say these boycotts are “inappropriate” without formal legal sanctions or embargoes by the national government. In fact, the Cabinet Office has said these boycotts “undermine good community relations, poison and polarize debate, weaken integration and fuel anti-Semitism.”
But Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, whose party has been ridding itself of an industrial-size stash of anti-Semitic members in recent days, criticized the government’s warning against BDS as an “attack on local democracy.”
Real national disposable income per capita in Israel has gone up by 1.7% in 2014 compared with the year before, reaching a level of 119% compared with the year 2000, Israel’s Central Board of Statistics announced on Wednesday.
In 2014, the government debt as a percentage of GDP (65%) was lower than that of France (85%), Spain (88%), the UK (94%), the US (98%), and Italy (127%). It was higher than Germany’s (48%), the Czech Republic (46%), Sweden (44%), Turkey (37%), Switzerland (21%), and Norway (17%).
Between the years 2008-2011 there was a moderate rise in net income inequality in Israel (according to the Gini coefficient, a.k.a. the Gini index or Gini ratio — a measure of statistical dispersion intended to represent the income distribution of a nation’s residents, which is the most commonly used measure of inequality.) It was followed by a downward trend in the Gini index until 2013, but remains high in Israel, compared with other OECD countries — higher than the US, Turkey, Mexico and Chile.
In 2013, the net annual income per standard capita was 91,604 shekel ($24,283), a rise of 5% compared with the year before, in 2013 rates. The net annual reported income per standard capita in Jewish households was double the amount in Arab households.
In 2013, Israel’s household debt as a percentage of GDP (47%) was significantly lower than most other OECD countries, such as Spain (79%), France (63%), Germany (56%), and Italy (49%). It was still higher than that of Poland (35%), Slovakia (32%), and Hungary (31%).
58% of Israelis ages 20 and up were satisfied with their economic situation in 2014: 59% of men, 57% of women.
Israeli Jews were more satisfied than Israeli Arabs — 60% vs. 48% respectively.
Jerusalem (TPS) – The Israeli Labour Party is considering cutting ties to its British counterpart amid an ongoing wave of British Labour officials dismissed due to anti-Semitic comments, including remarks advocating the deportation of Israel’s Jews and claims that Hitler supported Zionism.
MK Isaac Herzog, head of Israel’s Labour Party and Opposition leader, told Channel 10 News on Monday that he is “considering suspending relations” with British Labour and that “it’s possible there may be no other resort.” Herzog went on to explain that the majority of British Labour rejects these anti-Semitic views, which are held by “only a small and loud minority.”
Herzog’s announcement follows a letter by Labour MK Nachman Shai calling on Herzog to promptly sever ties with British Labour under its current chairman, Jeremy Corbyn.
“There is a toxic atmosphere of hatred and fanaticism in British Labour,” Shai wrote. “It is no longer a sister Party with which we can have close relations and coordinate policy.”
“When one of the Labour leaders creates a twisted connection between Adolf Hitler and Zionism this is no longer a warning sign – this is a moral collapse that requires immediate and unequivocal action,” Amir Peretz, another Israeli Labour MK and former Party chairman, wrote on his Facebook page.
Peretz was referring to comments made by former London Mayor and Labour Member Ken Livingstone last week, arguing that Adolf Hitler supported Zionism because he wanted to deport German Jews. Livingstone was suspended from Labour following the remarks, and the Party has said it will investigate anti-Semitism in its ranks.
Three more British Labour officials were suspended on Monday for anti-Semitic comments they had posted to Facebook, including comments referring to Israel “drinking Gaza blood” and accusing Israel of orchestrating last year’s ISIS terror attacks in Paris as punishment for a French UN vote in support of the Palestinians.
The scandal in British Labour comes at a sensitive time, with important local elections coming up in England on Thursday—including a contentious and racially-charged race for London mayor—which coincides with Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Herzog sent a letter to British Labour head Jeremy Corbyn on Saturday inviting him to bring a delegation to visit Israel’s Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem. “While Ken Livingstone is surely anti-Semitic beyond repair,” Herzog wrote, “I’m sure there remain many Labour Party activists with a willingness to engage and better understand the scourge of anti-Semitism.”
“Yad Vashem is open to all visitors,” said Simmy Allen, Yad Vashem’s director of international communications, in an interview with Tazpit Press Service (TPS). “Our vast resources are at the disposal of anyone who would like to learn about the Holocaust and experience a visit to Yad Vashem.”
It appears unlikely, however, that Corbyn will take Herzog up on the offer, leading Israeli Labour members to openly ponder whether they must dissociate from their British counterpart.
“With sister Parties like this, who needs enemies?” tweeted Itzik Shmuli, a Knesset member with the Labour Party.