British Jewish leader: Corbyn must stop fobbing off antisemitism in Labour

Jeremy Corbyn Smile

The leader of the UK’s main Jewish organisation has accused Jeremy Corbyn of failing to deal with antisemitism within the Labour party after weeks of turmoil over the issue.

Jonathan Arkush, president of the Board of Deputies, an umbrella organisation representing British Jews, said: “In the last few weeks we have witnessed a stream of clear cut cases of antisemitism in the Labour party, which can’t just be fobbed off as differences over Israel.

“Most of the Jewish community, numerous Labour MPs, Labour peers, and Labour’s London mayoral candidate are crying out for the leader to take action on antisemitism. It would be incomprehensible for Mr Corbyn to remain inert and refuse to take this form of racism in his party seriously.”

The latest incident to trigger a row centred on a tweet by Corbyn’s brother, Piers. After the Labour MP Louise Ellman, who is Jewish, said actions rather than words were needed to tackle antisemitism within the party, Piers Corbyn tweeted that this was “rubbish”, and “All #Corbyns are committed #AntiNazi. #Zionists cant cope with anyone supporting rights for #Palestine”.

In response, Jeremy Corbyn said his brother was “not wrong”. He added: “My brother has his point of view, I have mine and we actually fundamentally agree – we are a family that were brought up fighting racism from the day we were born.”

Arkush said: “Jeremy Corbyn’s defence of his brother’s belittling of the problem of antisemitism is deeply disturbing.”

In the past few weeks, Labour has twice suspended a the deputy chair of its Woking branch, Vicki Byrne, for posting antisemitic tweets, suspended a councillor over Facebook posts, and launched an investigation into allegations of intimidation of Jewish students in its Oxford University branch.

On Wednesday Labour’s mayoral candidate, Sadiq Khan, said antisemitism in the party was a “badge of shame” and that Corbyn needed to take a tougher stance. It was “unacceptable in 2016 that there is antisemitism in the Labour party,” he added.

During a visit to Norwich on Thursday, Corbyn said: “If anyone reports any form of antisemitism within our party, it is investigated immediately and cracked down upon. That message is unequivocal – we are a multifaith, multicultural Britain – let’s respect each other and move on from there.”

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Harriet Sherwood Religion correspondent, for The Guardian on Thursday 7th April 2016 19.33 Europe/London

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