On the eve of Hanukkah, the Jewish celebration of the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, Jeremy Corbyn attended the launch of the newly established Labour Muslim Network (LMN) in Committee Room 11, Parliament on 11 December. The LMN is fronted by a well-known anti-semitic Labour activist, Ali Milani, vice president(Union Development) of the National Union of Students (NUS). Previously, Milani has been forced to apologise unreservedly for anti-semitic language and comments, including “Israel has no right to exist”.
In April, the Jewish Chronicle reported that Josh Nagli from the Union of Jewish Students said: “Jewish students will be rightly outraged when they see a candidate for a national position having used anti-semitic tropes, many of which would be deemed anti-semitic under the definition that NUS holds itself to.”
Corbyn and Milani posed for photographs with Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, Labour MP Naz Shah—who was temporarily suspended from the Labour Party for a post on Facebook suggesting that Israel should be relocated to the United States—MPs Tanmanjeet Singh Desi, Andy Slaughter, Wes Streeting, Dawn Butler, Karen Buck, Kate Green, Rupa Huq, Afzal Khan, who has also apologised for tweeting during the 2014 Gaza conflict that, “The Israeli government are acting like Nazi’s in Gaza” and Mohammed Kozbar, the chairman of Finzsbury Park Mosque. Ahead of the 2014 European elections, Afzal Khan signed up to a five-point policy pledge of anti-Israel measures promoted by Labour Friends of Palestine.
According to the invitation, the LMN event was “designed to showcase the work of the LMN as well as to be a networking opportunity, and will include the chance to hear from senior Labour Party figures, the LMN director, and Muslim community figures and journalists on a panel looking at British Muslims’ political engagement”. In September, the LMN Facebook page was “proud to be supporting the #RiseForRohingya emergency demonstrations tomorrow across the country”. At the launch, Milani said: “There is no doubt that the future of Muslims is enshrined in political engagement and that can only be achieved through the Labour Party.”
Since early 2016, the Labour Party has been fighting a reputation of systemic anti-semitism. Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet insist he cares about the Jewish community, but is it plausible that Corbyn did not know about Milani’s past; this event makes it difficult for folks to take their affirmations seriously.