WZO: UK Jews living in fear for their future and security

‘One of the top contenders for UK's leadership is a declared antisemite, a hater of Israel and a terrorist supporter’

 World Zionist Organization vice chairman Yaakov Hagoel. (photo credit: COURTESY WORLD ZIONIST ORGANIZATION)
World Zionist Organization vice chairman Yaakov Hagoel.
“In 2019, nearly 300,000 Jews are living in fear for their own future and their own security.”
These were the words of World Zionist Organization (WZO) vice chairman Yaakov Hagoel, who has called on the British government to fight the scourge of antisemitism as concerns mount over the possibility that UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn could become the country’s next prime minister.
In an exclusive letter to The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, Hagoel said that in 2019, “one of the top contenders for the United Kingdom’s leadership is a declared antisemite, a hater of Israel and a terrorist supporter.”
He said that attempts to conceal antisemitic views among Labour Party leaders “have been shattered every day with the harsh and problematic statements under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn and his associates.
“In 2019, British Jewry faces increasing concern about identifying as Jews,” Hagoel continued. “Jewish symbols are hidden in fear of rising antisemitism on the streets of Britain.”
Hagoel stressed that “Today, a large, well-established and influential political party is giving a tailwind to bigotry against Jews, officially, without masks and without fear.”
In a strong message to the UK government, Hagoel said that the WZO “demand[s] the British government [to] immediately denounce the rising antisemitism in its street,” and also called for practical action to be taken, “not just talk – we demand educational programs and legislation.”
Hagoel also demanded the “United Kingdom to take immediate action to protect her Jewish citizens through physical and legal protection.
“It is the duty of all world governments to ensure the safety and security of the various communities living in their country, regardless of their religious or national background,” he concluded.
During a BBC interview on Tuesday night, Corbyn refused to apologize to the Jewish community about how he has handled the Labour antisemitism storm. He also continuously defended the way he dealt with the issue.
Despite being given several opportunities to do so by the host of the show, Corbyn only responded that he is “determined that our society will be safe for people of all faiths.
“I don’t want anyone to be feeling insecure in our society, and our government will protect every community against the abuse they receive on the streets, on the trains or in any or any other form,” he said.
EARLIER ON Tuesday, the Labour leader also hit back at Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis’ article in The Times, in which the Jewish leader wrote that the poison of antisemitism “sanctioned from the top” has taken root in Britain’s Labour Party, and that the “soul of our nation is at stake” in next month’s election on December 12.
During the launch of the parties “race and faith manifesto,” Corbyn responded by saying that “antisemitism in any form is vile and wrong.
“It is an evil within our society,” he said. “There is no place for it and under a Labour government, it will not be tolerated in any form whatsoever.”
Corbyn also called on the Jewish community to engage with him, adding that “no community will be at risk because of its faith, identity, ethnicity or language” under a future Labour government
Although religious leaders usually stay out of national politics in the UK, several others backed Mirvis’ actions.
The senior rabbi of Britain’s Sephardi Jewish community, Rabbi Joseph Dweck, wrote on Facebook that “as a rule, we as rabbis are careful to keep out of national politics.
“But as Chief Rabbi Mirvis said, this comes to an issue of racism and a large portion of the Jewish community does not look at the potential election of Corbyn as a question between liberal and conservative politics, but rather, the difference between the safety and peace of Jewish life in this country, and God forbid, the alternative,” he said.
Dweck stressed that his community is the oldest in the UK, dating back to 1656.
“We have over the last 364 years contributed greatly to every sector of British society, and in turn, Britain has been very good to our people,” he said. “Given the history of antisemitism in Europe, the hateful specter that casts a shadow over the rhetoric and ideas of Mr. Corbyn and his party gives us significant reason for concern, and so the chief rabbi has raised his voice in concern and caution.
“I stand with him and his message,” Dweck concluded.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby also posted a statement online saying that “the chief rabbi should be compelled to make such an unprecedented statement at this time ought to alert us to the deep sense of insecurity and fear felt by many British Jews.”
He emphasized that “everyone in our country is entitled to feel safe and secure.
“They should be able to live in accordance with their beliefs and freely express their culture and faith. As a Church, we are very conscious of our own history of antisemitism,” Welby continued. “None of us can afford to be complacent. Voicing words that commit to a stand against antisemitism requires a corresponding effort in visible action.”
Welby concluded, “The chief rabbi’s statement provides all of us with the opportunity to ensure our words and actions properly reflect our commitments to mutual flourishing and inclusion, for the common good.”
Ezra Taylor contributed to this report.