UK Labour Party Suspends high-profile lawmaker over antisemitism

Britain’s Labour Party has suspended high-profile lawmaker Diane Abbott over a letter in which she said that the prejudice experienced by Jewish people is not the same as racism.

Britain’s main opposition Labour Party has suspended Diane Abbott, 69, a lawmaker since 1987 and the first Black woman to be elected to parliament in Britain. The decision comes after a letter the lawmaker sent to the Observer, in which she said that the prejudice experienced by Jewish people was similar to, but not the same as, racism.

Abbott is a close ally of Jeremy Corbyn, the former leader of the Labour Party, who was suspended from the party over his reaction to a highly critical report on antisemitism. Abbot served as the party’s spokesperson for home affairs during Corbyn’s leadership, during which time the Labour Party faced accusations of discrimination and harassment against Jews.

In her letter to the Observer, Abbott responded to a writer’s claims that Irish, Jewish and Traveller people suffered racism. She said that their experiences were similar to racism but that there were differences. “They undoubtedly experience prejudice. This is similar to racism, and the two words are often used as if they are interchangeable,” she wrote.

She also wrote, “In pre-civil rights America, Irish people, Jewish people and Travellers were not required to sit at the back of the bus. In apartheid South Africa, these groups were allowed to vote. And at the height of slavery, there were no white-seeming people manacled on the slave ships.”

She later apologised “unreservedly” and withdrew her remarks. “The errors arose in an initial draft being sent,” she said in a message posted on Twitter. “But there is no excuse, and I wish to apologise for any anguish caused.”

A Labour Party spokesperson said that she had been suspended pending an investigation. British politicians condemned her comments. According to an earlier statement by a Britain’s equalities watchdog this year, the Labour Party had made sufficient changes over the last two years to tackle antisemitism.


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