NDP MP Niki Ashton stands during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Thursday, April 26, 2018. Two prominent Jewish advocacy groups are voicing anti-Semitism concerns ahead of a public conversation between NDP MP Niki Ashton and former U.K. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

NDP MP Niki Ashton stands during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Thursday, April 26, 2018. Two prominent Jewish advocacy groups are voicing anti-Semitism concerns ahead of a public conversation between NDP MP Niki Ashton and former U.K. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Jewish groups raise anti-Semitism concerns ahead of NDP MP’s chat with Corbyn

Corbyn was suspended after he said anti-Semitism in his party had been ‘dramatically overstated’

Two prominent Jewish advocacy groups are voicing concerns about anti-Semitism ahead of a public conversation between NDP MP Niki Ashton and former U.K. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The planned livestream talk risks pulling New Democrats in a direction “antithetical” to Canadian values, said Shimon Fogel, head of the Toronto-based Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, in a joint statement with the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

“Jeremy Corbyn is toxic,” Fogel said, accusing a “small group” of New Democrats of undermining party leadership.

“It is staggering that given the litany of catastrophic, consequential issues before us, including the pandemic, that this is where some in the NDP want to spend the party’s capital.”

The British Labour party has been grappling with allegations that anti-Semitism was allowed to fester under Corbyn, a longtime supporter of Palestinians and a critic of Israel who led the party for almost five years from 2015.

The Labour party suspended Corbyn in October after he said the problem of anti-Semitism in the party had been “dramatically overstated” for political reasons. He was readmitted as a party member in November after walking back those comments, but remains an Independent MP after his successor Sir Keir Starmer refused to let him back into the fold.

Ashton has been promoting on social media their March 20 chat, an online fundraiser for Progressive International. The organization, which is hosting the event, was launched in 2018 by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, Canadian author Naomi Klein and other progressive politicians and activists.

“This moment is all about building international solidarity,” Ashton said in a Twitter thread Tuesday.

“Here in Canada and around the world, we must find a way to work with movements and activists who share our values and put forward an unapologetically bold vision for our collective future.”

Ashton did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

The event will focus on issues that range from growing inequality to the rise of the far right and the threat of climate change.

The NDP said in an email the party and its leader, Jagmeet Singh, are committed to fighting anti-Semitism amid a troubling rise in hateful ideologies.

“New Democrats have been working with organizations to dismantle hate and alt-right groups and proposing solutions to fight against online hate to keep communities safe,” the party said Wednesday.

“Jagmeet and New Democrats are committed to fighting anti-Semitism and will continue to push the Liberals to take more concrete actions, like attacking online hate, to combat it.”

In October, a report from the U.K. Equality and Human Rights Commission found “serious failings in leadership” and an inadequate process for handling anti-Semitism complaints under Corbyn’s tenure, concluding that the Labour party was responsible for “unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination.”

“Our analysis points to a culture within the party which, at best, did not do enough to prevent anti-Semitism and, at worst, could be seen to accept it.”

The report was cited Tuesday by Rick Smith, executive director of the Broadbent Institute, which shares links with the New Democrats, when he criticized the event.

“This is not the sort of person that should headline a progressive fundraiser or occupy the time of Canadian progressive leaders,” Smith said of Corbyn in a Twitter post Tuesday.

Smith linked to a post from former NDP MP Svend Robinson, who said he would be joining Ashton and Corbyn for the event.

Richard Marceau, general counsel for the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, called the decision to feature Corbyn at a Progressive International fundraiser “mind-boggling.”

“To me it betrays true progressive values. Those people would never, ever invite people who have been condemned for anti-Black racism, anti-Indigenous racism, homophobia, etc. And yet Niki Ashton is lending her name to a person who is peddling anti-Semitic tropes,” said Marceau, a former Bloc Québécois MP, in an interview.

“This is not, I believe, the progressive movement that Canada needs or wants.”

Progressive International did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

—With a file from The Associated Press

Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

anti-semitismUnited Kingdom

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Saanich police officers were one group of dozens that submitted dance clips to the Greater Victoria Festival Society, to help create the Dance Across Victoria video montage. (Youtube/Screenshot)
WATCH: Saanich police, Victoria mayor bust some moves in new Dance Across Victoria video

Montage features submitted dance clips from across Greater Victoria

Former Oak Bay High Grade 12 student Brandon Kip plays the $100,000 Steinway piano in the Dave Dunnet Theatre. (Black Press Media file photo)
Oak Bay High Alumni Association passes torch to new president

The association has given back more than $70,000 in its 16 years

Saanich’s Malia Brodie competed in the Vancouver qualifiers for the 2020 National Championships. (Photo by BC Sport Karate Snaps)
PHOTOS: Saanich teen awarded $1,800 Karate Canada bursary to pursue officiant certification

Malia Brodie, 18, has black belt, nearly 15 years experience in karate

This photo courtesy of Leanne Grover shows the immediate aftermath of the fire at 7987 Galbraith Cres. that caused extensive damage and displaced six residents. (Leanne Grover/Submitted)
Residents of a Central Saanich duplex ‘fortunate’ to escape Sunday morning fire

Damage to the duplex extensive with one resident said to be ‘catatonic’ after escaping building

After more than a year, open forums will resume at a Saanich committee of the whole meeting on April 19 with up to five residents having the chance to speak for three minutes each about any district-related matter. (Black Press Media file photo)
Public input resumes at Saanich council following lengthy suspension due to pandemic

Up to five residents can present by phone for up to three minutes starting April 19

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

Pat Kauwell, a semi-retired construction manager, lives in his fifth-wheel trailer on Maxey Road because that’s what he can afford on his pension, but a Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw prohibits using RVs as permanent dwellings, leaving Kauwell and others like him with few affordable housing options. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Rules against RV living hard on Island residents caught in housing crunch

Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw forcing pensioner to move RV he calls home off private farm land

(Black Press file photo).
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Most Read