Jewish leaders to Labour: Our community, our country will not forgive further failure

The JLM concluded that Corbyn and the Labour Party “must show real resolve and step into the breach, now… Please don’t be a bystander in this fight for the soul of the party.”

July 22, 2019 05:37
2 minute read.
Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, gives a speech

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, gives a speech at the EEF National Manufacturing conference, in London, Britain, February 19, 2019. (photo credit: HANNAH MCKAY/ REUTERS)

Several Jewish groups have again called on the UK Labour Party to scourge the antisemitism plaguing their party.

Separate letters from the Jewish groups – including The Jewish Board of Deputies, Jewish Labour Movement, and Jewish Leadership Council – were sent to all members of the Shadow Cabinet, National Executive Committee, and Labour MPs ahead of a scheduled meeting on Monday discussing antisemitism.
In its letter, the Jewish Board of Deputies listed several changes that the Labour Party must implement if it is to begin the process of ridding itself “of anti-Jewish racism.” The letter emphasized that a more outsourced and independent investigation needs to be done, and that “outstanding and future cases should be brought to a swift conclusion.”

The board’s president, Marie van der Zyl, said that “a significant amount of the fault lies with [Labour leader] Jeremy Corbyn,” who has a record steeped in supporting antisemitic murals, attending events commemorating terrorists and terror organizations, and “othering British Jews.”

“We urge you to take this opportunity to turn the tide,” van der Zyl wrote. “The alternative is to leave Labour permanently damaged as an institutionally racist party.” She further stressed that “our community and our country will not forgive any further failure.”

The Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) also penned a letter asserting that the party is seriously in need of real leadership when it comes to addressing antisemitism. “While the NEC provides the administrative leadership of the party, you, the shadow cabinet, provide its political leadership,” the JLM wrote. “We are sorely in need of real leadership on antisemitism, having lacked any to this point. This is your chance to lead.”

The JLM also said that while the party claims “its fourfold increase in the speed of dealing with cases, we can have no confidence in this figure, given the complete opacity of all data around the disciplinary process.”

The JLM stressed that “it is meaningless, and we have no confidence in it or that party’s other statistics,” making clear that it believes the ongoing Equality and Human Rights Commission investigation will find that “the party is institutionally racist against Jews.” They concluded that Corbyn and the Labour party “must show real resolve and step into the breach, now… Please don’t be a bystander in this fight for the soul of the party.”

In a third letter, Jewish Leadership Council chairman Jonathan Goldstein warned the recipients that to be “silent is to be complicit. To fail to lead is to allow evil to flourish.” He called on each one of the Shadow ministers and Labour MPs “to examine your consciences [individually and collectively], and do everything in your power to stop Labour party antisemitism,” adding that Labour antisemitism crisis is “sickening.”

“To our disgust, when we and others challenge and expose this problem, the reaction is more denial, more bullying, more falsehoods, and more hatred against us and our community, and those with the integrity to support us,” Goldstein said. He added that 85% of British Jewry “consider your leader Jeremy Corbyn to be antisemitic,” while a third of the general population believes Labour to be antisemitic.

Goldstein said that tackling this issue begins with “tone and action, not denial and proclamation. Please do not underestimate the importance of your actions for the future well-being of British Jews, or the wider message that you give about racism, liberal democratic values and our British society.”

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