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

PUBLISHED: 12:07 21 February 2019 | UPDATED: 12:16 21 February 2019

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

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

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.

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.”

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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