Chief Rabbi ‘still waiting’ to see Labour take antisemitism seriously

Chief Rabbi ‘still waiting’ to see Labour take antisemitism seriously

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live's Emma Barnett show, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said he was 'deeply concerned' by the lack of action by the opposition

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis. Photo credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis. Photo credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

The Chief Rabbi has said he is “still waiting” to see the issue of antisemitism taken seriously by the Labour Party.

Ephraim Mirvis said that Labour had adopted an international definition of antisemitism and made some “pretty impressive” comments about the issue, but that the Jewish community was yet to see sufficient action taken.

He warned that “tension” continued to exist between the Jewish community and the Labour Party and said he was “very concerned” by the situation.

Jeremy Corbyn came under intense pressure last year over allegations that under his leadership Labour had not taken enough action to deal with antisemitic remarks and behaviour among its ranks.

In September, the ruling National Executive Committee adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition in full, after coming under attack for initially omitting some of its examples of antisemitic behaviour.

But the Chief Rabbi told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Emma Barnett: “We continue to be deeply concerned about the fact that it doesn’t appear that the Labour Party is taking antisemitism seriously enough.

“There’s a great backlog of cases that haven’t been dealt with. It took some time and some effort for the IHRA definition of antisemitism to be passed, but we haven’t yet seen it being properly implemented.

“So we continue to be very concerned in that regard.”

He added: “We’re still waiting to see, and the longer we wait, the more concerned we get. We’re waiting to see antisemitism being taken seriously.

“All we are asking for – all that our society is asking for – is zero tolerance on antisemitism, and that’s what we expect to see.

“There is tension between our community and the Labour Party. They’re well aware of that. Again, this is nothing new.

“And we have continued to stress an end of talking and a beginning of action. They’ve said some pretty impressive things but we need to see the results.”

A Labour Party spokesman said: “Labour is committed to tackling antisemitism in all its forms wherever it arises, in our party and wider society.

“Jeremy Corbyn asked Jennie Formby to make it her number one priority when she started as General Secretary. Since then we have significantly sped up and strengthened our procedures for dealing with complaints about antisemitism.”

Labour has appointed an in-house legal counsel and set up special panels to deal with antisemitism complaints. A number of rule changes were unanimously agreed at the party’s annual conference.

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