Corbyn walks out of anti-Semitism debate as Labour MPs Ruth Smeeth, Luciana Berger and John Mann recall abuse

Catherine Neilan
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Berger said she had been threatened since attending last month's rally

Labour MPs received standing ovations from their colleagues today after recalling personal stories of anti-Semitic abuse - but their leader was not in the Chamber to hear much of it.

MPs including Ruth Smeeth, Luciana Berger and John Mann told the Commons about abuse including rape threats and warnings they would be deselected by far-left Jeremy Corbyn supporters.

Berger - who recently drew the media's attention to Corbyn's defence of an anti-Semitic mural - told the Commons: "One anti-Semitic member of the Labour party is one member too many. And yet... in 2018, within the Labour party, anti-Semitism is now more commonplace, it is more conspicuous and it is more corrosive."

She went on to blame Corbyn supporters who attacked her for speaking at last month's rally, who have called for her deselection as a result. Corbyn had himself walked out of the debate after around half an hour, although he later returned.

Berger said she had been accused of “having two masters”, of being “Tel Aviv’s servant” and of being a “paid-up Israeli operative”.

"Essentially, it is anti-Semitism of the worst kind - suggesting that I’m a traitor to our country, they have called me ‘Judas’, a ‘Zio-Nazi’, an ‘absolute parasite’, telling me to ‘get out of this country and to go back to Israel," she said.

John Mann, who chairs the all-party group on anti-Semitism, said he "did not expect to be targeted by a group called Momentum", claiming the pro-Corbyn group was "explicitly targeting Jewish members of the parliamentary Labour party because they are Jewish".

Speaking after Corbyn had left the Chamber the Bassetlaw MP also claimed his wife had been sent a dead bird through the post, and that she had been "threatened with rape, and my daughter similarly".

Smeeth, who was brought to tears by comments made to her during the launch of the Chakrabarti report into anti-Semitism two years ago, slammed those willing to "downplay the problem.. to cry smear, to say we are weaponising anti-Semitism".

She added: "Weaponising anti-Semitism? My family came to this country fleeing the pogroms in the 19th century. Of our relatives who stayed in Europe, none survived. We know what anti-Semitism is, we know where it leads. How dare these people suggest that we trifle with something so dangerous, so toxic, so formative to our lives and those of our families."

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