Norwich MP condemns ‘very real problem of left-wing anti-Semitism’ but calls for unity to defeat it

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis. Photo: Yui Mok/PA Images

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis. Photo: Yui Mok/PA Images - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Norwich MP Clive Lewis has condemned 'the very real problem of left-wing anti-Semitism' in a debate in Parliament.

Speaking in the House of Commons during an debate on anti-Semitism on Tuesday Mr Lewis, the Labour MP for Norwich South, said: 'I am not Jewish, but as a black man I know what it feels like to experience racism of both the individual and the institutional kind.

'I understand how a racist insinuation is not just offensive, but isolating, making you suddenly feel vulnerable and excluded. I know how the repetition of a well-worn stereotype or ​trope, followed by the inevitable denial that it is racist, can be undermining and exhausting. I know, because I have seen it and felt it, as well as read about it, that hostility to Jewish people and age-old antisemitic stereotypes, are becoming more common.'

It comes as eight former Labour MPs quit the party this week, in part over leader Jeremy Corbyn's handling of anti-Semitism.

They were joined by three Tories to form The Independent Group.

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Mr Lewis said 'it is clear that most of the well-documented rise in antisemitic incidents here and in many other parts of Europe is driven by the alt-right, the far right and the fascist right' but he added: 'The fact that the left is opposed to racism in principle does not mean that it is immune to being, consciously or unconsciously, racist or anti-Semitic in practice.

'It can be all the more difficult for us to face up to this fact given the extent of unacknowledged racism in other parties, which goes deep.'

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He gave the example of George Orwell, who wrote in 1945 that while looking at anti-Semitism people should look to themselves rather than just condemning others.

Mr Lewis said: 'This is good advice, even today, that I know some people in my party seem to find quite difficult to follow.'

He also referenced a report by group Hope Not Hate, which he said ' affirmed the seriousness of modern anti-Semitism, online and off, including the very real problem of left-wing anti-Semitism'.

He added: 'Above all, we know that racism can be defeated only if we stay united and refuse to be divided by any of the current tensions that swirl around us.'

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