Community groups unmoved after Corbyn bid to mend ties

Community groups unmoved after Corbyn bid to mend ties

Criticism comes from CAA and JLM who remain unconvinced by the Labour leader's attempt to patch up relations

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn’s efforts to build bridges with the Jewish community have been rebuffed by critics as Labour’s anti-Semitism row drags on.

The Labour leader insisted he will root out anti-Semites from Labour and acknowledged mistakes in the way the party had handled the crisis.

But the Jewish Labour Movement said trust had broken down with the party leadership, while the Campaign Against Antisemitism lashed out at Mr Corbyn’s failure to apologise for his own conduct.

Mr Corbyn said the party had been too slow in dealing with complaints and should have consulted the Jewish community before drawing up a code of conduct that failed to fully reproduce an internationally accepted definition of anti-Semitism and its examples.

But he insisted that it was his priority to drive anti-Semitism out of the party for good and rebuild trust between Labour and Jewish voters.

At the end of a bruising week which has seen complaints about his behaviour and a request for the human rights watchdog to investigate the Labour Party, Mr Corbyn said: “No one can, or should, try to dismiss or belittle the concerns expressed by so many Jewish people and organisations about what has been happening in the party I am proud to lead.”

But after three leading Jewish newspapers jointly published a scathing leader column about Mr Corbyn’s party, the Labour leader rejected their “overheated rhetoric”.

However, he acknowledged there was a “real problem that Labour is working to overcome” and stressed that if he became prime minister he would “take whatever measures necessary” to guarantee the security of the Jewish community.

Mr Corbyn acknowledged Labour had been “too slow in processing disciplinary cases of anti-Semitic abuse” but insisted that was changing.

Writing in the Guardian, he said: “Labour staff have seen examples of Holocaust denial, crude stereotypes of Jewish bankers, conspiracy theories blaming 9/11 on Israel, and even one individual who appeared to believe that Hitler had been misunderstood.

“People holding those views have no place in the Labour Party.”

While the number of cases was “few”, Mr Corbyn said “one is too many” and stressed that it was not done in his name.

“Our party must never be a home for such people, and never will be. People who dish out anti-Semitic poison need to understand: You do not do it in my name.

“You are not my supporters and have no place in our movement.”

The latest flare-up in the long-running difficulties over anti-Semitism was sparked by the party’s new code of conduct.

Mr Corbyn defended the code, although he accepted that the Jewish community should have been involved at an earlier stage.

In the document, Labour failed to fully adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism and all its examples.

Seven examples were incorporated entirely along with “the essence” of the other four, he said.

“But I acknowledge that most of the Jewish community, including many Labour supporters, take a different view.

“The community should have been consulted more extensively at an earlier stage – which is why our executive decided last month to reopen the development of the code in consultation with Jewish community organisations and others to address their concerns.”

The differences were “very small” and amount to “half of one example out of 11” in relation to criticism of Israel.

Mr Corbyn said: “It is unfortunately the case that this particular example, dealing withIsrael and racism, has sometimes been used by those wanting to restrict criticism ofIsrael that is not anti-Semitic.”

Mr Corbyn’s article met with a furious response from the Campaign Against Antisemitism.

The group’s chairman Gideon Falter said: “There is no acknowledgement of his own role in this crisis. There is no apology for his anti-Semitic activity in the past, but he has hypocritically condemned as anti-Semitic behaviour that he himself has been guilty of.

“He has again preached to Jews that he is right to have rewritten the international definition of anti-Semitism.

“By his action over the years as well as by failing even now to take on board the full concerns of the Jewish community, we remain convinced that Jeremy Corbyn is an anti-Semite and under his leadership the once anti-racist Labour Party has become institutionally anti-Semitic and an existential threat to British Jewry.”

The Jewish Labour Movement also rejected Mr Corbyn’s article.

A spokesman said: “There is no trust left. We find ourselves asking once again for action, not words.”

Political opponents seized upon similarities between Mr Corbyn’s article and an earlier response to allegations of anti-Semitism in Labour which was published in April.

Tory deputy chairman James Cleverly said it was a “cut and paste job”.

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