UK Jews slam antisemitism in Labour: Words no longer enough, action needed

British community groups respond to Corbyn’s apology after mass protest.

March 28, 2018 01:14
2 minute read.
UK Jews slam antisemitism in Labour: Words no longer enough, action needed

Protesters hold placards and flags during a demonstration opposing antisemitism, in Parliament Square in London, Britain, March 26, 2018. . (photo credit: REUTERS)


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LONDON – Tensions between Jeremy Corbyn and the British Jewish community remain high following a protest where over 2,000 people gathered outside of Parliament to challenge Corbyn’s perceived failure to tackle antisemitism within the Labour Party since his election in 2015.

In a joint statement released on Tuesday by the heads of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council, the organizations that coordinated Monday’s protest continued to take a firm stance against the way that Corbyn has dealt with antisemitism. This was despite a letter that Corbyn released on social media while the protest took place, in which he apologized “for the pain caused” by antisemitism “resurfacing within the party” and offered to hold a meeting with the two groups “as soon as possible.”

Corbyn’s apology on Monday was his strongest condemnation of antisemitism within his party since becoming leader, in which he stated he was “sincerely sorry for the pain which has been caused.”

The two organizations responded: “We note Jeremy Corbyn’s apology but we are almost three years into his leadership and words are no longer enough – now we need action.”

Commenting on Monday’s protest, the organizations said: “Yesterday, thousands of people from our community and far beyond came together in Parliament Square to tell Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party leadership that ‘enough is enough.’” “Never has our community made a more powerful statement that we will not tolerate antisemitism in the Labour Party,” the statement said.

The protest saw speeches from a range of speakers including senior leadership figures within the British Jewish community and several members of Parliament from the Labour Party itself.

Among these was MP Luciana Berger, whose complaint last week against Corbyn’s 2012 comment on Facebook that supported a mural widely interpreted as antisemitic instigated the wave of anger that helped lead to Monday’s protest.

Speaking in no uncertain terms, Berger said that “I tell you that antisemitism is very real and it is alive in the Labour Party... Being a bystander is not an option.”

Corbyn has called for a meeting between himself and two organizations twice within a matter of days, the second offer following an open letter published on Sunday by the groups accusing him of being “the figurehead for an antisemitic political culture.”

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, a representative of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and Jewish Leadership Council said that they had received the letter yesterday, were in the process of considering it in consultation with communal groups and would be responding soon.

By the time of writing, neither group had accepted Corbyn’s offer to meet.

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