Jewish leader demands UK Labour act on anti-Semitism

8th April 2016, Comments 0 comments

A senior British Jewish leader called on the opposition Labour party Friday to take tougher action against anti-Semitism, warning that the election of leftist leader Jeremy Corbyn had "emboldened" a "hate-filled minority".

Jonathan Arkush, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, a representative body, spoke out after a growing scandal over anti-Semitic remarks by Labour activists in recent months.

Corbyn has said that any incident of anti-Semitism will be immediately investigated, but senior members of his own party have expressed concern that not enough is being done.

"I would like Jeremy Corbyn to make clear that anyone who puts out anti-Semitic statements as members of the Labour party will be made to leave," Arkush told AFP.

He said Corbyn himself was not anti-Semitic and noted his record of campaigning against racism.

But he said the veteran socialist's election as Labour leader in September had seen "far-left views" move more into the mainstream.

"I'm sure it's a minority... this vociferous hate-filled minority," Arkush said, but added: "I think they feel emboldened under Jeremy Corbyn."

Arkush has spoken out on the issue before but stepped up his criticism after Corbyn this week failed to condemn his brother, who dismissed complaints about anti-Semitic abuse as part of an argument about Israel.

When Labour MP Louise Ellman, who is Jewish, accused the leadership of failing to put its words into action, Piers Corbyn dismissed her remarks as "absurd".

"JC+ All Corbyns are committed AntiNazi. Zionists cant cope with anyone supporting rights for Palestine," he wrote on Twitter.

Asked for his reaction, Corbyn 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."

- Blurring the issue -

Arkush said: "That's completely unacceptable and I find it really quite appalling for Jeremy Corbyn to say he was in fundamental agreement with Piers."

He said the Labour leader must "make it clear that you could not dismiss claims of anti-Semitism by putting it down to some argument about Israel".

Labour launched an investigation into its Oxford University student branch in February after the chairman stepped down complaining that many members "have some kind of problem with Jews".

Last month Vicki Byrne, deputy chairwoman of a local party branch, was suspended after it emerged she reportedly posted a series of anti-Semitic remarks on Twitter.

A Labour spokesman said Corbyn had "consistently condemned anti-Semitism and all forms of racism" and was taking "clear action against offenders".


© 2016 AFP

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