Jewish groups reacted to Boris Johnson’s decisive win after he led the Conservatives to a comfortable majority.
In a stinging blow to Labour after it faced its worst election defeat in decades, Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl warned history “will not look kindly on Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership” which has allowed, she claimed, “anti-Jewish racism” to “run amok.”
She said: “When he eventually steps back, history will not look kindly on Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party, where anti-Jewish racism has been allowed to run amok and some at the highest levels of the party have appeared to collude to protect antisemites.
“We urge the next leader of the Labour Party to act quickly to implement the steps repeatedly recommended by Jewish communal groups to begin solving this crisis and moving our politics forward.”
She added: “We hope that the prime minister will use his new mandate to bring the country together, and put an end to the toxicity and prejudice which has become too regular a feature of our politics.”
A statement from the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) called on Corbyn to stand down, urging the Labour leader and his allies to take responsibility “for Labour’s moral and political failures” and “for allowing five more years of Tory rule.”
The statement said “the results will do nothing to heal a divided country and instead stoke the rising tide of racism, Islamophobia, antisemitism and hatred within our society. Our public services and our NHS are severely at risk.”
Claiming the results lie “squarely with the party’s leadership”, particularly its “confused position on Brexit” and its “total failure to tackle anti-Jewish racism,” the statement urged the party “to think long and hard as to why we’ve suffered this devastating loss and how we can become a party that we can once again be proud to campaign for.”
The group, affiliated to Labour for close to a century, also paid tribute to Ruth Smeeth who was defeated in Stoke-on-Trent North, saying she “represented the best of Labour over these past few years – unafraid and determined to hold the Party’s leadership accountable for their failure to tackle antisemitism despite the abuse she’s faced.”
At the polls yesterday, we conferred upon our Members of Parliament the heavy responsibility of answering the profound social and economic challenges that our country faces. The election may be over, but concerns about the resurgence of antisemitism very much remain. 1/3
— Chief Rabbi Mirvis (@chiefrabbi) December 13, 2019
Meanwhile, Jonathan Goldstein, chair of the Jewish Leadership Council, congratulated the Government on winning the election.
He added: “This General Election has been difficult for all of us. It has been especially challenging for Jews, but we are not the only community to have expressed sincere fears about the direction of British politics and society.
“We hope that our country’s politicians, from all parties, will now do their utmost to demonstrate respect for all British citizens, and for the values upon which our democracy depends.”
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, whose unprecedented intervention in The Times last month drew wide media coverage, called for unity amid growing divisions.
“At the polls yesterday, we conferred upon our Members of Parliament the heavy responsibility of answering the profound social and economic challenges that our country faces. The election may be over, but concerns about the resurgence of antisemitism very much remain,” the chief rabbi tweeted on Friday morning.
He added: “Islamophobia, racism and other forms of prejudice continue to afflict our communities and, as has been well publicised, even our political parties.
“It is vital that we now bring the country together, ensuring that the voices of people from across our society are heard and respected. We must focus on our shared values and leave all hatred and prejudice far behind us.”
But Jews Against Boris, a group of activists who campaigned for Johnson’s Labour challenger Ali Milani in Uxbridge and South Ruislip, described the election results as “heartbreaking and terrifying.”
The group, which vowed to mobilise for equality, warned against what it said was the prime minister’s “embrace of the far-right” in a “crisis which threatens all of us.”