British Jewish leaders accuse Labour Party head Jeremy Corbyn of siding with anti-Semites


Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn in London, Dec. 14, 2017. (Daniel Leavl-Olivas/Pool/Getty Images)

(JTA) — Leaders of British Jewry in an open letter to the country’s Labour Party said “again and again” party leader Jeremy Corbyn “has sided with anti-Semites rather than Jews.”

The letter sent on Monday to Member of Parliament John Cryer, chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party, said: “Today, leaders of British Jewry tell Jeremy Corbyn that enough is enough.  We have had enough of hearing that Jeremy Corbyn ‘opposes antisemitism,’ whilst the mainstream majority of British Jews, and their concerns, are ignored by him and those he leads.”

“He is repeatedly found alongside people with blatantly anti-Semitic views, but claims never to hear or read them,” read the letter.

Corbyn has headed the Labour Party since 2015.

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The letter also said: “Jeremy Corbyn did not invent this form of politics, but he has had a lifetime within it, and now personifies its problems and dangers. He issues empty statements about opposing antisemitism, but does nothing to understand or address it. We conclude that he cannot seriously contemplate anti-Semitism, because he is so ideologically fixed within a far left worldview that is instinctively hostile to mainstream Jewish communities.”

On Sunday morning, Corbyn sent a message on social condemning anti-Semitism. “Labour is an anti-racist party and I utterly condemn antisemitism, which is why as leader of the Labour Party I want to be clear that I will not tolerate any form of antisemitism that exists in and around our movement,” he posted on Facebook and Twitter.

In a statement on Facebook he also wrote: “We recognize that anti-Semitism has occurred in pockets within the Labour Party, causing pain and hurt to our Jewish community in the Labour Party and the rest of the country. I am sincerely sorry for the pain which has been caused. Our party has deep roots in the Jewish community and is actively engaged with Jewish organisations across the country.”

He said he will meet with Jewish leaders in the coming days and weeks to “rebuild confidence” in the Labour Party.

Earlier this month, Corbyn was found to have been a member of a private Facebook group for two years until 2015 that featured many anti-Semitic statements. He said he had not read any of those statements.

Corbyn called Hezbollah and Hamas his friends in 2009 and said it was an honor to host representatives from those terrorist groups in parliament. In 2016 he said he regrets saying that. He has vowed to kick out any Labour member caught making racist or anti-Semitic statements. Dozens were expelled but many others accused of these actions were allowed to stay or were readmitted.

British Jews and an interparliamentary committee of inquiry have dismissed as unsatisfactory an internal Labour audit that largely cleared the party of anti-Semitism allegations.