Jeremy Corbyn finally apologises for protesting against removal of anti-Semitic mural
Jeremy Corbyn has finally apologised for protesting against the removal of an ant-Semitic mural.
The Labour leader had previously only said he "sincerely regrets" defending the painting, which featured a group of elderly Jewish men playing Monopoly on the backs of emaciated bodies.
It emerged last week that Mr Corbyn had backed the artist behind the mural in a Facebook post in 2012 after he complained about plans to remove it.
His apology came in a letter to the heads of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council, just an hour before their Parliament Square demonstration against anti-Semitism in the Labour party.
Mr Corbyn said: "While the forms of anti-Semitism expressed on the far right of politics are easily detectable, such as Holocaust denial, there needs to be a deeper understanding of what constitutes anti-Semitism in the labour movement.
"Sometimes this evil takes familiar forms – the east London mural which has caused such understandable controversy is an example. The idea of Jewish bankers and capitalists exploiting the workers of the world is an old anti-Semitic conspiracy theory. This was long ago, and rightly, described as 'the socialism of fools'.
"I am sorry for not having studied the content of the mural more closely before wrongly questioning its removal in 2012."
Elsewhere in his letter, Mr Corbyn said he was a "militant opponent of anti-Semitism" and pledged to do all he could to stamp it out of the Labour party.
He said: "I recognise that anti-Semitism has surfaced within the Labour party, and has too often been dismissed as simply a matter of a few bad apples. This has caused pain and hurt to Jewish members of our Party and to the wider Jewish community in Britain.
"I am sincerely sorry for the pain which has been caused, and pledge to redouble my efforts to bring this anxiety to an end."
Mr Corbyn's letter came after the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council told him "enough is enough" in the battle to rid Labour of Jew hatred.
"Rightly or wrongly, those who push this offensive material regard Jeremy Corbyn as their figurehead," they said in an open letter. "They display an obsessive hatred of Israel alongside conspiracy theories and fake news.
"These repeated actions do serious harm to British Jews and to the British Labour Party. Jeremy Corbyn is the only person with the standing to demand that all of this stops. Enough is enough."
Many MPs are set to attend tonight's demonstration, which will be followed by a lobby of the Parliamentary Labour Party's weekly meeting.