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

Salvation Army Capt. Michael Ramsay, right, receives a donation of $5,000 on behalf of the Bread of Life from RBC Foundation members Mena Rai, left, with nephews Makhan and Kartar, RBC’s Eric Matheson, Rai’s nieces Veera and Isha, and RBC manager Leona Horvath. Rai’s nieces and nephews often participate in RBC fundraising initiatives. SONJA DRINKWATER/Special to the AV News)
RBC in Port Alberni raises funds for homelessness

Bread of Life receives $5,000 donation

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

Volunteers from the Rotary Club of Port Alberni collect garbage in the Scotiabank parking lot on Saturday, April 17 as part of a Community Clean Up. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Port Alberni’s community street clean-up a success

Alberni Aquarium and Stewardship Centre plans ocean clean-up for April 24 and 25

Wounded Warriors runners run along Beaver Creek Road towards the Beaver Creek Volunteer Fire Department hall. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Port Alberni’s Wounded Warriors stage solo run

Vancouver Island-wide event was cancelled, but Maria Marciano and Dave Nesbitt ran anyway

Wickaninnish (Clifford Atleo) plays the drum while singing the Nuu-chah-nulth song on the court steps in Vancouver In a picture from April 2018. Photo credit, Melody Charlie.
Five Nuu-chah-nulth Nations celebrate legal victory in fishing dispute

Ha’oom Fisheries Society and T’aaq-wiihak Fisheries announce “major legal victory”

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/YouTube.com screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Christy Clark says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

The former B.C. premier testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read