A controversial anti-Semitism campaign group which spearheaded attacks on former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has been slammed by critics of the former leader over its apparent politicisation of anti-Jewish racism. Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge and the former Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent North and Kidsgrove, Ruth Smeeth, expressed exasperation over the apparent politicisation of anti-Semitism by the group Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA).
Both Hodge and Smeeth featured heavily during the party’s anti-Semitism row under Corbyn, which many say led to his downfall. The CAA was also one of the pro-Israel groups at the heart of the row because of its fierce campaign against Corbyn. At its height in 2018, questions were being raised about its status as a charity because of its highly politicised attack on the MP for Islington North. Britain’s charity regulator, the Charity Commission, stepped in to investigate the CAA’s activities.
The group was formed during Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge” in the summer of 2014 when over 2,000 Palestinians, including 551 children, were killed by Israeli missiles and shelling of civilian areas. It has been accused of inciting death threats against Corbyn with its campaign, which included a petition whereby the pro-Israel organisation called for the 73-year-old to be removed from his position.
Following Corbyn’s eventual defeat, Joe Glasman, who leads the CAA’s “political investigations team”, gloated that “The beast is slain,” and that the former leader had been “slaughtered.” At the height of the attacks on Corbyn, however, no Labour MP spoke out against what many described as the CAA’s fact-free attack on the veteran anti-racism campaigner.
Both Hodge and Smeeth, though, appear to have had enough, now that the CAA has attacked Corbyn’s successor as Labour Leader, Sir Keir Starmer, following a recent political campaign video which includes a clip of the Holocaust Memorial in Germany. The Labour leader is seen with the shadow foreign secretary, David Lammy, at the landmark in Berlin describing how Labour can win the next election.
The CAA branded Starmer “tasteless” and launched an attack on Labour over its failure to combat anti-Semitism. “It is a matter of decency and long-established convention in Germany that you never stoop to using the Berlin Holocaust Memorial as some kind of a prop,” said the CAA on twitter. “But to incorporate the Memorial as the backdrop for a political clip that does not even mention the Holocaust is an insult.”
The group described Starmer as “exploiting” his visit to the Holocaust memorial and of “inadequately” addressing the problem of anti-Semitism in Labour.
“I’m fed up of CAA using anti-Semitism as a front to attack Labour,” replied Hodge in a tweet. “Time to call them out for what and who they really are.” Suggesting that the anti-Semitism campaign group was politicising anti-Jewish racism to damage Labour, Hodge added: “More concerned with undermining Labour than rooting out anti-Semitism.”
Keir Starmer visited Holocaust memorial on trip to Berlin. Totally appropriate. I’m fed up of CAA using antisemitism as a front to attack Labour. Time to call them out for what and who they really are. More concerned with undermining Labour than rooting out antisemitism.
— Margaret Hodge (@margarethodge) July 17, 2022
In her response to the CAA, Smeeth said: “Starmer has a proud record in fighting anti-Semitism. He visited the Holocaust Memorial and spoke about it at the time. This attack is not only wrong, but completely disingenuous and deeply unfair. And attempts to politicise something that simply shouldn’t be.”
Jewish Voice for Labour was one of the many to comment on the double-standards. “You and @ruthsmeeth were perfectly happy with the CAA when they were writing pieces with far less substance to attack Corbyn,” said JVL in reply to Hodge’s tweet. “Some of us always know [the CAA] were at heart anti-Labour but you ignored that for your factional ends. Those who ride tigers rarely enjoy it in the long run.”