The chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council has criticised Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for not denouncing comments described as “anti-Semitic” during fringe meetings at the party’s conference.
Jonathan Goldstein, who replaced Sir Mick Davis earlier this year, said Corbyn had been “mute on anti-Semitism” during his 75-minute speech to the conference in Brighton, calling it a “glaring omission”.
Writing in the Sunday Times, Goldstein referred to “anti-Semitic” comments made during a fringe meeting by Jews, including Israeli anti-Zionist Miko Peled and Jewish Voices for Labour activist Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi.
The former said free speech should extend to questioning the Holocaust and the latter called for pro-Israel groups such as Labour Friends of Israel and Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) to be thrown out of the party.
“The party leader’s deafening silence over anti-Semitism on the left is deeply concerning,” wrote Goldstein, arguing that the Jewish community was “angry, disappointed, and at our wits’ end”.
Conference delegates voted overwhelmingly to endorse a rule-change put forward by JLM to make it easier to stamp out racism and anti-Semitism, and JLM was itself awarded a prize for its campaigning, but Goldstein said this had been “eclipsed” by comments made on the conference fringe.
Organisers said the fringe meetings had no link to the Labour party, but Goldstein was also angry at comments from Labour supporters including film-maker Ken Loach and union leader Len McCluskey, who downplayed talk of anti-Semitism.
Goldstein said Corbyn should have mentioned these comments in his speech, “yet he remained mute on the anti-Semitism that continues to engulf the party under his leadership”.
He added: “To the Jewish community, this is a deafening silence and tacit endorsement from a potential prime minister. Can he not see that we are deeply offended? Does he not care?
“As we begin a new Jewish year, perhaps Jeremy Corbyn will appreciate and take stock of the harm he has caused and the offence his silence has brought.
The opportunity to begin anew is still there but time is running out.”