Community leaders have written to Labour’s General Secretary Jennie Formby, urging Jeremy Corbyn to “acknowledge his own failings and offer a heartfelt apology”.
Chief Executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews Gillian Merron wrote to the Labour official today, setting out key steps which the party must take to tackle its anti-Semitism crisis. These include resolving outstanding disciplinary cases, addressing denial of anti-Semitism and Corbyn’s past.
This comes after Formby wrote to the Board on August 9, ‘outlining the Labour Party’s recent actions to tackle antisemitism’, and follows on from April’s unsuccessful meeting between the Labour leader, the Board, Jewish Leadership Council and other community leaders.
Merron urges Corbyn to “acknowledge his own failings and offer a heartfelt apology to British Jews and to the Israeli victims of the terrorists with whom he has shown solidarity”, to move forward.
The Board chief also urges Labour to adopt the “full IHRA definition, with all its examples and unamended”, and for Labour to “end this destructive stand-off” with the community.
Labour previously backed an amended version of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, which left out four of the eleven examples, mostly referring to anti-Semitic anti-Zionism.
She raised concerns over “reports on online blogs about ‘caveats’ to the IHRA definition” while warning against ‘penalties for vindictive accusations’.
Merron says that the backlog of outstanding cases needs to be dealt with, and that “each passing day ..Labour continues to retain anti-Semites in membership is another day of embarrassment”, calling for a “clear timetable” for action.
Turning to the Labour leader’s history of controversial comments and associations, she accused Jeremy Corbyn having “not advanced the cause of peace for him “to acknowledge his own failings and offer a heartfelt apology to British Jews”.
Board of Deputies Chief Executive Gillian Merron has written to @UKLabour General Secretary Jennie Formby, informing her of the essential steps the party needs to take in order to deal with the antisemitism crisis pic.twitter.com/YjlWr3gdH1
— Board of Deputies of British Jews (@BoardofDeputies) August 29, 2018
Echoing a call for an apology, Mark Gardner of the Community Security Trust and Simon Johnson of the Jewish Leadership Council separately co-wrote Labour’s General Secretary calling for him to “undertake a deep cultural change.”
They stress that “most British Jews are Zionist and understand the word Zionism in its real sense, rather than in the perverted ways in which it, and Israel, are viciously abused on the platforms that Mr Corbyn has repeatedly shared throughout his political life.”
They call on Corbyn to make a “public acknowledgement of, and apology for, the hurt that his close associations and words over many years in the most extreme anti-Israel and anti-Zionist settings have caused to the Jewish community.”
They outline that they “previously made a lengthy detailed joint submission” to Shami Chakrabarti’s report on tackling anti-Semitism which “included references to the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism and its explicit caveats regarding Israel”.
They complain that anti-Israel activists had “disgracefully misrepresented the content and goal of IHRA”, and urge Jennie Formby to “take seriously our submission.”
Today @JLC_uk and @CST_UK have responded to the Labour Party regarding the Code of Conduct on Antisemitism. Our view is that our submission to the Chakrabarti Inquiry in 2016 remains as valid then as it is now. pic.twitter.com/EeOsuPyu8H
— The JLC (@JLC_uk) August 29, 2018
This comes amid widespread criticism from the Jewish community that Jeremy Corbyn has faced, since becoming Labour leader. He has come under pressure over a number of issues linked to anti-Semitism in the party, while more recently caused anger over his 2014 visit to a Palestinian cemetery in Tunisia and meetings with those connected to the Palestinian cause, including from Hamas. Last week, it was revealed he said in 2013, that British Zionists had “no sense of English irony” despite having ‘lived in Britain all of their lives”.
After a string of allegations against Corbyn, a petition was launched by the Campaign Against Antisemitism calling for him to resign, so far receiving more than 25,000 signatures.