Labour leadership contenders Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith will go head-to-head next month at a Jewish News debate.

More than 200 community members will have the chance to quiz the two candidates in one of the most fractious leadership contests in recent memory.

The event on the evening of 18 September is organised by the Jewish Labour Movement, Labour Friends of Israel and JW3, and media partnered by Jewish News.

It comes in the wake of widespread concern over cases of anti-Semitism in the party, which have led to a wave of suspensions of members, councillors and one MP. Corbyn insists he takes a zero-tolerance approach to such hateful language but has been accused by critics of not doing enough to live up to that pledge.

This issue will be high on the agenda at the hustings at JW3, along with topics like faith schools, religious rites and the delegitimisation of Israel in left-wing politics.

JLM chair Jeremy Newmark said: “This is an important opportunity for the community to question the candidates and discuss their fears and concerns. We urge Jewish Labour members and supporters to attend.”

Meanwhile, the two candidates have outlined their positions on key issues in letters to the Board of Deputies’ chief executive, Gillian Merron.

Corbyn, who remains the front-runner, said he had been “troubled by recent events in Labour with regards to anti-Semitism, and shocked by some of the language used”.

While community leaders have said the credibility of the party’s inquiry into anti-Semitism by Shami Chakrabarti is in tatters following her elevation to the House of Lords, he insisted he is committed to implementing its 20 recommendations – and consulting with the Board and other Jewish groups in rolling out anti-racism training.

He wrote: “I established the Chakrabarti Inquiry, the first full inquiry into racism in any political party in Britain, because I believe it is imperative to acknowledge and address these issues.
“As you state in your response to the Chakrabarti report. ‘There has too often been an attitude that, ‘We are on the left, therefore we cannot be racist’.

“As I said in when I launched my leadership campaign in July, the Labour Party must focus on ensuring all its members apply the anti-racist standards we preach.”

While Chakrabarti stopped short of recommending lifetime bans, Smith insisted any member or supporter found responsible for anti-Semitism “should be kicked out of the party for good – no ifs and no buts. That should apply to all forms of racism, sexist abuse and other forms of discrimination”.

Saying he was worried about the growth of anti-Semitism in the party and wider society, he added: “I support the implementation of the recommendations of the existing [Chakrabarti] report and also agree with your suggestion that the party should commission a credible supplementary paper on this issue. If elected leader I will ensure this happens.”

Both candidates backed the Board’s 10 commitments – devised ahead of the last General Election – including defending religious rites and affirming the importance of faith schools.
One pledge is to “promote peace projects that unite communities and resist boycotts that divide communities”.

But Corbyn sought to clarify his position on that point, saying: “I am not in favour of the academic or cultural boycott of Israel, and I am not in favour of a blanket boycott of Israeli goods.

“I do support targeted boycotts aimed at undermining the existence of illegal settlements in the West Bank.”

He added: “The society that we all want to create will be fairer, more tolerant and more secure.

“We will fight prejudice and discrimination in the workplace, in wider society and, yes, within the Labour Party. Every community and every faith must be allowed to thrive.”

Chakrabarti is in tatters following her elevation to the House of Lords, he insisted he is committed to implementing its 20 recommendations – and consulting with the Board and other Jewish groups in rolling out anti-racism training.

He wrote: “I established the Chakrabarti Inquiry, the first full inquiry into racism in any political party in Britain, because I believe it is imperative to acknowledge and address these issues.
“As you state in your response to the Chakrabarti report. ‘There has too often been an attitude that, ‘We are on the left, therefore we cannot be racist’.

“As I said in when I launched my leadership campaign in July, the Labour Party must focus on ensuring all its members apply the anti-racist standards we preach.”

While Chakrabarti stopped short of recommending lifetime bans, Smith insisted any member or supporter found responsible for anti-Semitism “should be kicked out of the party for good – no ifs and no buts. That should apply to all forms of racism, sexist abuse and other forms of discrimination”.

Saying he was worried about the growth of anti-Semitism in the party and wider society, he added: “I support the implementation of the recommendations of the existing [Chakrabarti] report and also agree with your suggestion that the party should commission a credible supplementary paper on this issue. If elected leader I will ensure this happens.”

Both candidates backed the Board’s 10 commitments – devised ahead of the last General Election – including defending religious rites and affirming the importance of faith schools.

One pledge is to “promote peace projects that unite communities and resist boycotts that divide communities”.

But Corbyn sought to clarify his position on that point, saying: “I am not in favour of the academic or cultural boycott of Israel, and I am not in favour of a blanket boycott of Israeli goods.

“I do support targeted boycotts aimed at undermining the existence of illegal settlements in the West Bank.”

He added: “The society we all want to create will be fairer, more tolerant and more secure.

“We will fight prejudice and discrimination in the workplace, in wider society and, yes, within the Labour Party. Every community and every faith must be allowed to thrive.”

• Tickets for this event, on Sunday 18 September at 6pm, will be available online from Monday at www.jw3.org.uk