Corbyn a ‘danger’ to British Jews, says ex chief rabbi. Labour can resolve its anti-Semitism crisis quickly, John McDonnell has said, insisting Jeremy Corbyn’s views on Israel have been “misinterpreted”.
The shadow chancellor told the BBC that the party should accept in full the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance guidelines on anti-Semitism, as long as free speech was protected. But ex-Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks said Mr Corbyn must also “repent and recant”. And ex-PM Gordon Brown said Labour must act now or undermine its values. Speaking at a meeting of Jewish Labour MPs in London, Mr Brown said the party needed to be “cleansed of anti-Semitism and racism”. The party has been beset by arguments over the issue throughout the summer, prompting two MPs – John Woodcock and Frank Field – to resign the whip and others to threaten to do the same. Eighteen months of rancour within the party over claims of growing anti-Semitism came to a head last month when footage from 2013 emerged of Mr Corbyn saying a group of British Zionists had “no sense of English irony” despite a lifetime in the country. Labour MP Luciana Berger said it made her “feel unwelcome” in the party while Lord Sacks branded his comments as “the most offensive statement” by a politician since the late Conservative MP Enoch Powell’s 1968 Rivers of Blood speech.
Ex-chief rabbi ‘wrong’ over Corbyn anti-Semitism attackSpeaking publicly for the first time since he made those remarks, the former chief rabbi told the Andrew Marr show he stood by his criticism of Mr Corbyn and suggested British Jews were considering leaving the country because of the prospect of him becoming prime minister. “Jeremy Corbyn must repent and recant as quickly as possible,” he said. “When people hear the kind of language that’s been coming out of Labour, that’s been brought to the surface among Jeremy Corbyn’s earlier speeches, they cannot but feel an existential threat.
Former MP Ivor Caplin, who is chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, said it and other groups were only prepared to have a dialogue with Mr Corbyn if he made it “very clear” that he would take firm action against anti-Semites in the party and others engaging in “bad behaviour” at a local level. Amid growing warnings that Labour was facing a 1980s-style split, Mr McDonnell said the party must remain a “broad church” and he hoped Mr Field would “come back into the fold”. The Birkenhead MP, a former welfare minister, quit the Labour group at Westminster on Thursday over what he called the party’s “tolerance” of anti-Semitism and a “culture of nastiness”. While Labour MPs who resigned the whip should normally trigger a by-election, Mr McDonnell said in this case he did not want to “go anywhere near that” given Mr Field’s long service to the party.