Community leaders appeal to Labour ahead of crunch meeting on Jew-hate

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Community leaders appeal to Labour ahead of crunch meeting on Jew-hate

'In this situation, to be silent is to be complicit. To fail to lead is to allow evil to flourish,' JLC chair wrote

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, left, and the party's General Secretary Jennie Formby

Photo credit:  Peter Byrne/PA Wire
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, left, and the party's General Secretary Jennie Formby Photo credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Jewish groups have written to Labour demanding swift action to eradicate racism ahead of an emergency Shadow Cabinet meeting on Jew-hate next week.

The unprecedented meeting of the Shadow Cabinet, expected to take place next Monday, comes as the row over antisemitism intensifies.

Jeremy Corbyn came under fire from peers, MPs and staff after a Panorama documentary claimed senior figures intervened in antisemitism investigations.

The documentary, which aired last week, was criticised by the party, with Corbyn claiming it contained “many, many inaccuracies”.

The Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council have written to Labour separately, with Board President Marie van der Zyl citing measures to turn the tide on antisemitism.

“We urge you to take this opportunity to turn the tide. The alternative is to leave Labour permanently damaged as an institutionally racist party. Our community and our country will not forgive any further failure,” she wrote.

Party leadership, such as Jeremy Corbyn, Seumas Milne and Karie Murphie, should take personal responsibility for resolving the antisemitism row, van der Zyl wrote. 

Labour, she added, should promote the IHRA definition of antisemitism, with all its examples and clauses, to all members, branches and affiliates and work with mainstream Jewish community organisations including the Jewish Labour Movement.

Other recommendations include the swift and permanent exclusion of Derby North MP Chris Williamson and NEC Labour official Pete Willsman in the next fortnight and a statement making clear that Ken Livingstone and Jackie Walker will never be readmitted to membership.

The Board also urges the party to cease all non-disclosure agreements against former staff, its legal and media persecution of whistleblowers and also outsource its disciplinary process to an independent body.

Detailed and regular antisemitism case updates to Jewish groups, the letter adds, would resolve a perceived “lack of transparency” and increased suspicion.

Meanwhile, another letter to Labour by Jewish Leadership Council Chair Jonathan Goldstein appeals to Shadow Cabinet members to examine their “consciences”.

“We appeal to you, individually and collectively, to examine your consciences and do everything in your power to stop Labour Party antisemitism,” he wrote.

“The Labour Party currently attracts antisemites and repels Jews. This is a sickening situation for you and for us, but it is the undeniable truth.

“Whistle-blowers face legal action and ‘outriders’ are set upon them. The phrase ‘a new, kinder gentler politics’ has proven to be a hollow slogan.

“In this situation, to be silent is to be complicit. To fail to lead is to allow evil to flourish.”

A Labour Party spokesperson said: “The Labour Party is implacably opposed to antisemitism and determined to root it out of our movement and our society. We stand in solidarity with Jewish people and we are fully committed to the support, defence and celebration of the Jewish community and its organisations.

“We are taking decisive action against antisemitism, doubling the number of staff dedicated to dealing with complaints and cases, and swiftly suspending and taking robust action against individuals. Since Jennie Formby became General Secretary, the rate at which antisemitism cases have been dealt with has increased more than four-fold. We will continue to act against this repugnant form of racism.”

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