Barry Sheerman said he had “fought antisemitism all my political life”
A campaign group has called on a Labour MP to lose the party whip over an alleged anti-Semitic tweet.Barry Sheerman tweeted about a “run on silver shekels” in an apparent reference to a rumour about two high profile Jewish businessmen missing out on peerages.The Huddersfield MP deleted the post and said he was “deeply sorry that my clumsy tweet has caused offence”.The Campaign Against Antisemitism said he should face disciplinary action.A spokesperson for the group said: “Barry Sheerman’s first reaction on hearing that two prominent Jewish businessmen supposedly missed out on peerages is to think about ‘silver shekels’, alluding in one fell swoop to both classic and modern anti-Semitic tropes about Jews corrupting politics with money and being more loyal to Israel than their own countries.”After deleting the tweet Mr Sherman posted another tweet saying: “I apologise for my earlier tweet. I did not intend the meaning which has upset many, and I am very sorry for the upset and offense I have caused. “I will think more carefully in future and will reflect on this.”He added in a later tweet: “I have fought antisemitism all my political life & have been a Labour Friend of Israel since joining as a student at the LSE. I am deeply sorry that my clumsy tweet has caused offence.”In response to another tweet, Mr Sheerman named the businessmen he was referring to as Philip Green and Richard Desmond.In a statement to his local Labour party, he said he was responding to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s honours list and chose the businessmen’s names at random.”I was so angry I was intending to liken the places in the Lords as a “thirty pieces of silver” type of reward,” he wrote. “This alone is an unpleasant thing to say but I tried to be too clever and looked up the currency that might have been used 2,000 years ago, and found information suggesting it was the shekel,” he said. “I used this in my comment. In a separate comment, I also chose two rich businessmen who have received negative press attention as examples of the types of people being raised to the Lords by the government. “It never entered my head when I was making that comment that the two people I mentioned were Jewish.”I can see how offensive my comments have been, given this, and I am profoundly sorry. It was never my intention to make any implication about Jewish people, and I am horrified that I inadvertently did so”.Mr Sheerman added he would be “taking a rest” from Twitter.In June, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer dismissed MP Rebecca Long-Bailey from her role as shadow education secretary saying she had retweeted an article containing an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.
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