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Faiza Shaheen: Jon Stewart shocked after Labour drops candidate for liking old skit

American-Jewish comedian says move the ‘dumbest thing the UK has done’ since electing Boris Johnson, as Labour continues purge of Israel critics
Shaheen campaigning with former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in September, 2019 (AFP/Tolga Akmen)
Shaheen campaigning with former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in September 2019 (AFP/Tolga Akmen)

The American-Jewish comedian Jon Stewart has responded with incredulity after the UK’s Labour Party dropped parliamentary candidate Faiza Shaheen for liking posts critical of Israel and its supporters.

News emerged of the London School of Economics academic’s suspension late on Wednesday, with Shaheen interviewed about the move shortly after learning about it on BBC Newsnight.

“I’m just in a state of shock to be honest,” she said, adding that was a sentiment shared by others in the constituency she is contesting, Chingford and Woodford Green in London.

The liked posts in question include one accusing “professional organisations” of harassing critics of Israel and a 2014 skit by Stewart, in which he made light of the difficulties criticising Israel’s behaviour as a Jew.

“This is the dumbest thing The UK has done since electing Boris Johnson… what the actual fuck…” he wrote on X, responding to Shaheen’s suspension on Thursday morning.

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Middle East Eye has asked the Labour party for comment.

While speaking on Newsnight, Shaheen distanced herself from some of the liked posts but said she did not believe they warranted her suspension.

“I know what’s wrong with it…the line that’s there about ‘they’re in professional organisations’, it plays into a trope and I absolutely don’t agree with that and I’m sorry about that,” Shaheen said.

The move against Shaheen comes amidst a Labour purge against its left wing and critics of Israel.

Most prominently, Labour removed its whip from former party leader Jeremy Corbyn after a years long media and political campaign against him accusing him of antisemitism, a charge he denies.

The Islington North MP will now be standing against Labour as an independent candidate.

Corbyn’s ally Diane Abbott also announced she was barred from standing for Labour in the general election, due to be held on 4 July. However, Labour leader Keir Starmer has denied that she is banned.

Shaheen, a Muslim woman, was a supporter of Corbyn and is considered to sit on the party’s left wing.

Speaking at a rally to launch his campaign for parliament, Corbyn was asked whether he would describe Labour's targeting of the party's left as a "purge", to which he responded: "It looks like it."

Under Starmer, Labour have taken on a pro-Israel position, which has included support for the state’s blockade on food, water and other essentials entering the besieged Gaza Strip after the start of the war in October.

The party has since softened its position and is calling for a humanitarian ceasefire.

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