LONDON (AP) – British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is facing growing criticism over his handling of reported anti-Semitism among some of his supporters.
The simmering row escalated Sunday with newspaper reports about numerous anti-Semitic Facebook posts from groups that support Labour. The Sunday Times reported that some senior Labour staff workers were members of Facebook groups that made anti-Semitic and violent comments.
Labour has denied the groups are connected to the party in any way.
Corbyn’s leadership has also criticized by longtime Labour activist David Garrard, a major donor. Garrard told The Observer newspaper he has left the party because of its failure to confront anti-Semitism.
“I have watched with dismay and foreboding the manner in which the leadership has, in my view, over the last two years, conducted itself,” he said. “I consider that it has supported and endorsed the most blatant acts of anti-Semitism.”
He said the party has failed to expel members espousing “the grossest derogatory” comments about alleged Jewish conspiracies and characteristics, saying the attacks are like those that led “to such unbearable consequences for innocent millions in the past.”
Allegations of Labour anti-Semitism have grown since Corbyn, a longtime critic of Israeli actions against the Palestinians, was elected leader of Britain’s main opposition party in 2015.
On Saturday, senior Labour official Christine Shawcroft resigned from the party’s National Executive Committee after she was criticized for opposing the suspension of a Labour Party council candidate who was accused of Holocaust denial. She said her presence on the leadership board had become a “distraction.”
Corbyn says the party has “zero tolerance” for anti-Semitism, but leading Jewish groups have accused him of declining to take action against party members who are prejudiced against Jews.
The Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council say Corbyn’s party has repeatedly failed to deal with anti-Semitism.