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Photo: Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the U.K.'s Labour Party, has been mired in an ever-expanding scandal regarding the rise of anti-Semitism in his party — and his own ties to anti-Semitic rhetoric. The controversy kicked off last week after it emerged that he expressed support for a London mural that featured a host of anti-Semitic tropes in a 2012 Facebook comment, before expanding to Corbyn's membership in multiple Facebook groups that feature virulently anti-Semitic posts.

Why it matters: As the U.K.'s Leader of the Opposition, Corbyn wields a significant voice in British politics, and his involvement and response to this affair has led to open rebellion within the Labour ranks. For example, Luciana Berger, the Jewish MP who first brought Corbyn's Facebook comment to light last week, called the anti-Semitism issue a "stain on the conscience of the party."

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

Corbyn's 2012 comment that kicked things off, in response to a Facebook post by artist Mear One that his mural was being removed: "You are in good company. Rockerfeller [sic] destroyed Diego Viera’s [sic] mural because it includes a picture of Lenin."

  • The Labour Party's response: "In 2012, Jeremy was responding to concerns about the removal of public art on the grounds of freedom of speech. However, the mural was offensive, used antisemitic imagery which has no place in our society, and it is right it was removed."

The controversy deepened when the political blog Guido Fawkes discovered that Corbyn is a member of at least five left-wing Facebook groups that feature anti-Semitic posts and memes, including at least one group that he personally joined.

  • The groups in question have relatively innocuous names, such as "The Labour Party Supporter," "Jeremy Corbyn Leads Us to VICTORY," and "Labour for Democratic Socialism."
  • But they feature posts that include anti-Semitic conspiracy theories pertaining to the Holocaust, Zionism, and Israel's involvement in the use of a nerve agent on British soil.

To make matters worse, Corbyn took three days after Berger's tweet to apologize for his Facebook comment as well as the larger issue of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. That inaction prompted a public outpouring of anger from some Labour members as well as members of the British Jewish community.

  • From Corbyn's apology: "The idea of Jewish bankers and capitalists exploiting the workers of the world is an old antisemitic conspiracy theory. ... I am sorry for not having studied the content of the mural more closely before wrongly questioning its removal in 2012."
  • As Corbyn's apology was released, hundreds gathered across the street from the Houses of Parliament to protest Corbyn's response to the scandal. Addressing the crowd, Labour MP Wes Streeting directly attacked his leader: "We know what needs to be done. We don’t need any more mealy-mouthed statements from the leader of the Labour Party, we need actions."
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

Flashback: Labour faced similar controversy last year when former London mayor Ken Livingstone was suspended from the party for suggesting that Adolf Hitler was a Zionist.

The big picture: This controversy comes as Corbyn faces down a larger political challenge to his position as Labour's leader.

  • Just last week, he fired Owen Smith, his Northern Ireland secretary, after Smith broke with Labour's official position and called for a second Brexit referendum.
  • And Corbyn's weak response to the use of a Russian nerve agent on British soil caused one of his own MPs, John Woodcock, to publicly call him out on the floor of the House of Commons this week:
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

Go deeper

13 mins ago - World

U.S. will give Russians written response to NATO demands, Blinken says

Blinken and Lavrov shake hands in Geneva. Photo: Russian Foreign Ministry / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed after a meeting with his Russian counterpart on Friday that the U.S. will provide written answers to Russia's security demands next week.

Why it matters: Russia claims to be waiting for "concrete answers" to its demands that NATO rule out further expansion and roll back its presence in eastern Europe before deciding its next steps on Ukraine. But the U.S. and NATO have called those proposals "non-starters," and Friday's meeting offered no breakthroughs, so it's unclear how written answers might change the equation.

More surprises await scientists at Antarctica's "Doomsday Glacier"

Cliffs along the edge of the Thwaites Ice Shelf in West Antarctica. Photo: James Yungel/NASA

Researchers like David Holland, an atmospheric scientist at New York University, are in a race to understand the fate of a massive glacier in West Antarctica that has earned a disquieting nickname: "The Doomsday Glacier."

Why it matters: Studies show the Thwaites Glacier (its official name) could already be on an irreversible course to melt during the next several decades to centuries, freeing up enough inland ice to raise global sea levels by at least several feet.

Updated 3 hours ago - Health

The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Omicron's blitz around the world has underscored the need for a new arsenal of COVID vaccines and therapeutics, experts say — and that may require an effort akin to Operation Warp Speed 2.0.

Why it matters: The virus will continue to evolve, potentially in a way that further escapes vaccine protection, and the best way to prevent more global disruptions to everyday life is to have tools ready to combat whatever comes next.