Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has been accused of failing to take anti-Semitism seriously – but he promised an “immediate” investigation of any allegations.
British Board of Deputies president Jonathan Arkush attacked Mr Corbyn’s “deeply disturbing” response to a tweet by his brother criticising a Jewish Labour MP, saying Mr Corbyn could not be “inert” where abuse in the party was alleged. Mr Arkush’s comments came as part of a broad attack calling for a root and branch examination of the party’s approach to the Jewish community. He said:
“In the last few weeks we have witnessed a stream of clear cut cases of anti-Semitism 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 anti-Semitism. 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 anti-Semitism 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 told the Sun: “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.”
London mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan recently said Mr Corbyn needed to take a “tougher stance” on tackling anti-Semitism, which he said should be a “a badge of shame” in the Labour Party. He told the Daily Mirror:
“It is unacceptable in 2016 that there is anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. If it needs senior members, including members of the NEC (National Executive Committee), of my party to be trained about what anti-Semitism is, then so be it.
“I said from the outset, I’m embarrassed, I’m sorrowful about anti-Semitism in my party. I think the Labour leadership could have taken a tougher stance – and should have taken a tougher stance.
“There is no hierarchy when it comes to racism – racism is racism.”
Speaking on a visit to Norwich, Mr Corbyn responded: “If anyone reports any form of anti-Semitism 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.”
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