3 lawmakers leave British Labour Party over anti-Semitism

(JTA) — Three lawmakers in the upper house of the British parliament left the Labour party over its spiraling anti-Semitism problem.

David Triesman and Leslie Arnold Turnberg, who are Jewish, and Ara Darzi, who is not, announced their resignation on Tuesday. They will stay on as independents in the House of Lords.

The party was no longer “a safe environment” for Jewish people, Triesman wrote in his resignation letter, which came amid growing conflict inside Labour over external scrutiny of the proliferation of anti-Semitic hate in the party’s ranks.

“My sad conclusion is that the Labour party is very plainly institutionally anti-Semitic,” he added.

Turnberg referenced party leader Jeremy Corbyn directly in his letter. Corbyn and “his circle are anti-Semitic, having never once made the right judgement call about an issue reflecting deep prejudice,” Turnberg wrote. Anti-Semites were “shielded”, while “serious party members are thrown out unceremoniously,” he said. “The experience of life in the party has become sickening.”

As “an Armenian survivor of the Armenian genocide,” wrote Darzi, in his resignation letter, he has no tolerance for any “discrimination against religion or race.”

Triesman is a banker who was formerly the U.K.’s under-secretary of state for innovation, universities and skills. Turnberg and Darzi are both doctors.

Labour under Jeremy Corbyn, a far-left politician who was elected its leader in 2015, is under investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the British government’s watchdog on racism, for its handling of thousands of complaints and incidents involving hate speech and, in some cases, hate crimes.

Hundreds of Labour members, including some 20 lawmakers, have left Labour over what they called tolerance of anti-Semitism. Labour currently holds about a quarter of the House of Lords’ 778 seats.

Corbyn’s supporters have dismissed the charges and allegations that the problem owes to Corbyn’s anti-Israel stance. In 2009, he called Hezbollah and Hamas his friends, adding that the Hamas is “an organization that is dedicated towards the good of the Palestinian people and bringing about peace and social justice.”

Among his prominent critics in Labour was Luciana Berger, a Jewish politician from Leeds who left Labour over anti-Semitism in February and joined the centrist group Change UK. Berger has since left the group amid policy disagreements and serves as an independent lawmaker in the House of Commons.