U.K. Lawmakers Urge Twitter, Labour to Fight Antisemitism

  • Panel urges Twitter to address ‘pernicious’ problem online
  • Labour’s Corbyn slammed for ‘lack of consistent leadership’

Twitter Inc. and the U.K. Labour Party need to do more to stamp out antisemitism, a cross-party panel of British lawmakers said.

Twitter came in for the sharpest criticism from the Home Affairs Committee, which expressed shock at the “viscerally antisemitic nature and volume of tweets directed specifically at members of Parliament.” It flagged online abuse suffered by Jewish Labour lawmakers, including Luciana Berger, who it said received more than 2,500 tweets in 2014.

“It is deplorable that Twitter continues to act as an inert host for vast swathes of antisemitic hate speech and abuse,” the panel said in a report published Sunday. “The company has the necessary resources and technical capability, and must do more to address this pernicious problem, which appears to be growing exponentially.”

“Hateful conduct has no place on Twitter and we will continue to tackle this issue head on, alongside our partners in industry and civil society,” Twitter said in an e-mailed statement.

On the Rise

Antisemitism is on the rise in Britain, with the Community Security Trust, a charity that aims to protect British Jews, saying there was an 11 percent increase in reports of incidents in the first half of the year. Labour, the main opposition party, has come in for criticism after a string of antisemitic comments by activists led to a probe by Shami Chakrabarti, a former director of the human-rights advocacy group Liberty and now a member of the House of Lords.

The Home Affairs Committee, which includes three Labour lawmakers, said Chakrabarti’s peerage has “thrown into question” the independence of her report, which it described as “lacking in many areas.” The panel also said it isn’t “persuaded” that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn “fully appreciates the distinct nature of post-Second World War antisemitism.”

“We believe that his lack of consistent leadership on this issue, and his reluctance to separate antisemitism from other forms of racism, has created what some have referred to as a ‘safe space’ for those with vile attitudes towards Jewish people,” the committee said. “This situation has been further exacerbated by the party’s demonstrable incompetence at dealing with members accused of antisemitism.”

The Labour Party didn’t respond to a call seeking comment.

The committee said no political party is “immune to bad apples” and that all politicians have a duty to tackle antisemitism.

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