(November 27, 2019 / JNS) Pressed to explain and apologize to the British Jewish community over anti-Semitism concerns, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, in a Tuesday BBC interview with Andrew Neil, refused to apologize.
Asked four times whether he would like to apologize, Corbyn responded, “What I’ll say is this: I am determined that our society will be safe for people of all faiths. I don’t want anyone to be feeling insecure in our society and our government will protect every community against the abuse they receive on the streets, on the trains or in any other form of life.”
“I asked you if you wanted to apologize, and you haven’t,” responded Neil.
To which Corbyn said, “I don’t want anyone to go through what anyone has gone through.”
The BBC interview followed Monday’s article in The Times in which Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom Ephraim Mirvis called out anti-Semitism within the Labour Party, which he said is not doing enough to address concerns over anti-Jewish hate.
In the article, Mirvis called anti-Semitism “a new poison” that has taken root, “sanctioned from the very top.”
He maintained that “the overwhelming majority of British Jews are gripped by anxiety” and wonder justifiably “what will become of Jews and Judaism in Britain if the Labour Party forms the next government?”
In response to the article, Corbyn said he would not tolerate anti-Semitism “whatsoever,” though U.K. research and education organization Campaign Against Anti-Semitism noted that just earlier, the Labour leader had “announced his Race and Faith Manifesto while sharing a platform with anti-Semites and Jew-baiters.”
According to the organization, others who have supported the platform include Afzal Khan, a Member of Parliament who reportedly compared Israeli policy to that of the Nazis; candidate Aspana Begum, who accused former British Prime Minister and Labour leader Tony Blair of spreading “Zionist propaganda,” and who claimed that the leaders of Saudia Arabia were “inspired by Zionist masters”; and Claudia Webbe, who defended Ken Livingstone’s comparison of a Jewish journalist to a concentration-camp guard and who also heads up Labour’s disputes panel, which decides how to deal with members embroiled in anti-Semitic controversy.
“These individuals are hardly paragons of anti-racism,” said Gideon Falter, chief executive of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism. “Instead, their views are what the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn stands for. Jeremy Corbyn has again assured the country that he does not tolerate anti-Semitism ‘whatsoever,’ but he surrounds himself with it, and in the past has even perpetrated it himself. Jeremy Corbyn is gas-lighting Britain’s Jews.”
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