By Alan McGuinness, political reporter
A union boss and Jeremy Corbyn ally has suggested Israel created Labour’s antisemitism row to distract attention from its “atrocities”.
PCS leader Mark Serwotka claimed the country has tried to “create a story that does not exist”, in remarks set to reignite the party’s antisemitism row.
The comments were made during a fringe event at the Trades Union Congress conference in Manchester and first reported by The Independent.
Mr Serwotka told the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign event that 2018 had seen US President Donald Trump move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, “dozens of Palestinians – including many, many children…gunned down…by the Israeli military” and Americans “cutting off aid, which makes it even more important to call for an end to the blockade of Gaza”.
He added: “Isn’t it a funny old world when, instead of being on the front foot, denouncing these atrocities, demanding an independent and sovereign state for the Palestinian people, we have had a summer of asking ourselves whether leading Labour movement people are in any way antisemitic?”
“I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but I’ll tell you what – one of the best forms of actually trying to hide from the atrocities that you are committing is to go on the offensive and actually create a story that does not exist for people on this platform, the trade union movement or, I have to say, for the leader of the Labour Party.”
A spokesperson for the union said: “Mark spoke at a Palestine Solidarity Campaign fringe event at the TUC – an organisation PCS is affiliated to.
“He made the point at the start of the meeting that we need to oppose antisemitism in society and within the labour movement.
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“But we should not allow the issue of antisemitism to be used by people who are attempting to silence Palestinian voices as they legitimately struggle for their rights and a sovereign state.”