The Conservatives have been urged to “avoid making the same mistakes” as Labour by British Jews, as the party conducts its review into racism.
The president of the Board of Deputies made the appeal after it was announced the Tories will conduct a review into handling of complaints of discrimination and prejudice – including Islamophobia.
The move comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson apologised during the General Election campaign for “all the hurt and offence” that had been caused to the Muslim community by Islamophobia within the party.
His party was accused by the Muslim Council of Britain of “denial, dismissal and deceit” when it came to hate towards Muslims – with Johnson personally accused of writing an offensive opinion piece which referred to Muslim women wearing face veils as ‘letterboxes’.
While the Conservatives have been charged with being soft on Islamophobia, under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, Labour was repeatedly accused of failing to tackle antisemitism.
Chief Rabbi Mirvis launched an unprecedented attack a week before the election, accusing Corbyn of being “complicit in prejudice”, and that his inaction was a “new poison – sanctioned from the very top” of the party.
Speaking on Wednesday, Marie van der Zyl, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said: “As the Conservatives embark on an inquiry designed to strengthen its approach to racism – particularly including Islamophobia – and reassure British Muslims and other communities about its approach, it must avoid making the same mistakes as the Labour Party over antisemitism.”
She urged the party to ask “difficult questions and show a willingness to change”, but added that in the Board’s dealing with the Tories over incidents of antisemitism “we have found it to be responsive and swift. But it seems that other minority groups have not all had the same experience and this should be addressed. “
During the election campaign, three Conservative candidates were investigated over claims of antisemitism – with Lee Anderson taking the seat of Ashfield and Sally-Ann Hart being successful in Hastings & Rye, as their party swept to a historic win nationwide.
.@BoDPres Marie van der Zyl urges @Conservatives not to make ‘same mistakes as the Labour Party over antisemitism’ with new inquiry into racism including Islamophobia https://t.co/Y2ftiINZZ0 pic.twitter.com/cEzKDHwNc3
— Board of Deputies of British Jews (@BoardofDeputies) December 18, 2019