Pressure is mounting on Jeremy Corbyn amid fresh accusations of antisemitism, with Jewish leaders organising a major demo in London later today.
With an urgent meeting set to take place in the Labour Party this evening, the Labour leader has been accused of repeatedly “siding with anti-Semites rather than Jews” and of ignoring concerns from the Jewish community.
On Friday it was revealed that Corbyn had called into question the removal in 2012 of a wall mural featuring classic antisemitic imagery. After a backlash from MPs against his initial response, he has now expressed regret for “not looking more closely at the image” and acknowledged it was antisemitic.
As Jewish leaders prepared to protest against the Labour leader, Corbyn released a further statement saying sorry for the pain caused by “pockets” of anti-Semitism within Labour. The Labour leader was challenged by some of his own MPs over his response with some commenting that he should apologise for his own actions. At least half a dozen MPs have already contacted parliamentary Labour Party chair John Cryer amid a furious reaction, with more expected to do so.
I asked the Leader’s Office for an explanation about this Facebook post first thing this morning. I’m still waiting for a response. pic.twitter.com/DL8ynBtES4
— Luciana Berger (@lucianaberger) March 23, 2018
Corbyn last night said he would be meeting representatives of the Jewish community in the coming days, weeks and months to rebuild “confidence in Labour as a party which gives effective voice to Jewish concerns”. But within minutes Jewish leaders indicated they would not meet him at this time.
A letter from the Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council said: “We’ve had enough of hearing Jeremy Corbyn “opposes antisemitism”, whilst the mainstream majority of British Jews, and their concerns, are ignored by him and those he leads.” It alleges an “institutional failure to properly address Jewish concerns and to tackle anti-Semitism” – pointing to the much-criticised Chakrabarti report as a “glaring” example.
Corbyn, it says, “personifies the problems and dangers” of the issue on the hard left. “He issues empty statements about opposing anti-Semitism, but does nothing to understand or address it. We conclude he cannot seriously contemplate antisemitism because he is so ideologically fixed within a far left worldview that is instinctively hostile to mainstream Jewish communities.
“He has sided again and again with anti-Semites rather than Jews. At best, this derived from the far left’s obsessive hatred of Zionism, Zionists and Israel. At worst, it suggests a conspiratorial worldview in which mainstream Jewish communities are believed to be a hostile entity, a class enemy.”
Not “a single day” goes by when antisemite slanders are not uttered in Labour spaces online or in meetings, with allegations that concerns are made up or at the command of Israel.
“Rightly or wrongly, those who push this offensive material regard Corbyn as their figurehead. They display an obsessive hater of Israel alongside conspiracy theories and fake news. These repeated actions do serious harm to Jews and the Labour Party.
“Corbyn is the only person with the standing to demand that all this stops. Enough is enough.”
Speaking to Jewish News, Wes Streeting, Labour MP for Ilford North said: “There is no reasonable or plausible explanation for this antisemitic artwork. It cannot be justified.
“A number of Labour MPs, including myself, have raised concerns with the Leader’s Office. To say that the initial response from the spokesperson – and the subsequent explanation from Jeremy Corbyn – are both insufficient would be an understatement, but it does reflect the careless and hopeless attitude towards tackling antisemitism that we’ve consistently seen from the top of the party.”
#EnoughIsEnough We call on members of our community and all those who oppose antisemitism to join us in Parliament Square at 5:30pm to show solidarity. https://t.co/0Y3C4c7DaF pic.twitter.com/IrLTJZe5tL
— Board of Deputies of British Jews (@BoardofDeputies) March 25, 2018
FULL TEXT OF LETTER SENT BY JEWISH LEADERSHIP
Today, leaders of British Jewry tell Jeremy Corbyn that enough is enough. We have had enough of hearing that Jeremy Corbyn “opposes anti-Semitism”, whilst the mainstream majority of British Jews, and their concerns, are ignored by him and those he leads.
There is a repeated institutional failure to properly address Jewish concerns and to tackle anti-Semitism, with the Chakrabarti Report being the most glaring example of this.
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 anti-Semitism, 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.
When Jews complain about an obviously anti-Semitic mural in Tower Hamlets, Corbyn of course supports the artist. Hezbollah commits terrorist atrocities against Jews, but Corbyn calls them his friends and attends pro-Hezbollah rallies in London. Exactly the same goes for Hamas.
Raed Salah says Jews kill Christian children to drink their blood. Corbyn opposes his extradition and invites him for tea at the House of Commons. These are not the only cases. He is repeatedly found alongside people with blatantly anti-Semitic views, but claims never to hear or read them.
Again and again, Jeremy Corbyn has sided with anti-Semites rather than Jews. At best, this derives from the far left’s obsessive hatred of Zionism, Zionists and Israel. At worst, it suggests a conspiratorial worldview in which mainstream Jewish communities are believed to be a hostile entity, a class enemy.
When Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour Party, Jews expressed sincere and profound fears as to how such politics would impact upon their wellbeing. Our concerns were never taken seriously. Three years on, the party and British Jews are reaping the consequences.
Routine statements against anti-Semitism “and all forms of racism” get nowhere near dealing with the problem, because what distinguishes anti-Semitism from other forms of racism is the power that Jews are alleged to hold, and how they are charged with conspiring together against what is good.
This is not only historic, or about what Jeremy Corbyn did before being party leader. It is also utterly contemporary. There is literally not a single day in which Labour Party spaces, either online or in meetings, do not repeat the same fundamental anti-Semitic slanders against Jews.
We are told that our concerns are faked, and done at the command of Israel and/or Zionism (whatever that means); that anti-Semitism is merely “criticism of Israel”; that we call any and all criticism of Israel “anti-Semitic”; that the Rothschilds run the world; that ISIS terrorism is a fake front for Israel; that Zionists are the new Nazis; and that Zionists collaborate with Nazis.
Rightly or wrongly, those who push this offensive material regard Jeremy Corbyn as their figurehead. They display an obsessive hatred of Israel alongside conspiracy theories and fake news. These repeated actions do serious harm to British Jews and to the British Labour Party.
Jeremy Corbyn is the only person with the standing to demand that all of this stops. Enough is enough.
Very powerful letter by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and Jewish Leadership Council on Labour anti-Semitism row. pic.twitter.com/RF83xuORyZ
— Kevin Schofield (@PolhomeEditor) March 25, 2018