Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of anti-Semitism makes him unfit for high office, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis warns

Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of anti-Semitism in the Labour party makes him unfit for high office, the Chief Rabbi has warned.

Ephraim Mirvis said a victory for Labour in the General Election will put the “very soul of our nation” at stake.

He said “a new poison” has taken hold in the party “sanctioned from the very top” and that “the overwhelming majority of British Jews are gripped by anxiety” ahead of the December 12 poll.

The Chief Rabbi wrote in the Times: “During the past few years, on my travels through the UK and further afield, one concern has been expressed to me more than any other.

Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, Britain’s chief rabbi. He has launched a scathing attack on Jeremy Corbyn, saying he is unfit for high office over his handling of anti-Semitism in the Labour party (REUTERS)

“Of course, the threats of the far right and violent jihadism never go away, but the question I am now most frequently asked is: What will become of Jews and Judaism in Britain if the Labour Party forms the next government?”

Rabbi Mirvis warned: “The very soul of our nation is at stake.”

Mr Corbyn has repeatedly insisted that Labour is tackling anti-Semitism by expelling members. 

Responding to the remarks made by Rabbi Mirvis, a spokesman for the party said Mr Corbyn has made “absolutely clear it [anti-Semitism] has no place in our party and society and that no-one who engages in it does so in his name”.

Rabbi Mirvis said that the “Jewish community has watched with incredulity as supporters of the Labour leadership have hounded parliamentarians, members and even staff out of the party for challenging anti-Jewish racism”.​

Writing in Tuesday’s edition of the newspaper, Rabbi Mirvis added: “The way in which the leadership has dealt with anti-Jewish racism is incompatible with the British values of which we are so proud – of dignity and respect for all people. It has left many decent Labour members both Jewish and non-Jewish, ashamed of what has transpired.”

He concluded: “It is not my place to tell any person how they should vote. I regret being in this situation at all. I simply pose the question: What will the result of this election say about the moral compass of our country? When December 12 arrives, I ask every person to vote with their conscience. Be in no doubt, the very soul of our nation is at stake.”​

In response to the Chief Rabbi’s comments, a Labour spokesman said: “Jeremy Corbyn is a lifelong campaigner against anti-Semitism and has made absolutely clear it has no place in our party and society and that no-one who engages in it does so in his name.

“A Labour government will guarantee the security of the Jewish community, defend and support the Jewish way of life, and combat rising anti-Semitism in our country and across Europe. Our race and faith manifesto sets out our policies to achieve this.”

Mr Mirvis claimed that there are at least 130 outstanding cases on anti-Semitism being looked at by Labour and that thousands more have been reported but remain unresolved.

But the Labour spokesman added: “The 130 figure is inaccurate and it is categorically untrue to suggest there are thousands of outstanding cases. We are taking robust action to root out anti-Semitism in the party, with swift suspensions, processes for rapid expulsions and an education programme for members.

“Anti-Semitism complaints account for about 0.1 per cent of the Labour Party membership, while polls show anti-Semitism is more prevalent among Conservative than Labour supporters. In the past week it’s been revealed Conservative candidates said events in the Holocaust were ‘fabricated’ and called British Jews ‘extremists’.”

Labour manifesto: Jeremy Corbyn’s key pledges

Earlier this year, several then-Labour MPs including Luciana Berger and Chuka Umunna defected to the Liberal Democrats because of Mr Corbyn’s handling of anti-Semitism and Brexit.

Mr Corbyn will launch his party’s race and faith manifesto in Tottenham, north London, on Tuesday with pledges to improve social justice and human rights.

Ahead of his speech at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre, Mr Corbyn said: “Labour is the party of equality and human rights. Our race and faith manifesto presents our unshakeable commitment to challenge the inequalities and discrimination that has faced too many communities.

“Whatever your background, wherever you are from, whatever your faith or religious belief, you should have the chance to use your talents to fulfil your potential. Labour will tackle head-on the barriers that have unfairly held back so many people and communities.”


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