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Mon, 30 March 2020

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Tony Blair: Corbyn does not understand the seriousness of anti-Semitism problem

Tony Blair: Corbyn does not understand the seriousness of anti-Semitism problem

John Ashmore

2 min read

Tony Blair has hit out at Jeremy Corbyn over anti-Semitism, arguing the Labour leader and his circle "do not understand the seriousness of this problem". 

Mr Corbyn yesterday issued a fresh apology for protesting about the removal of an anti-Semitic mural in east London back in 2012.

In a letter to Jewish groups he stressed he was a "militant opponent" of anti-Semitism and would implement a "programme of political education" to help stamp out anti-Jewish prejudice.

Jewish leaders were joined by several Labour MPs for a protest on Parliament Square yesterday about the party's handling of the issue.

Speaking to BBC Newsnight, Mr Blair said it was up to Mr Corbyn to listen to the concerns of the Jewish community and "root out" racist behaviour. 

"I don't believe he is personally anti-Semitic, no I don't actually," he said.

"But I do believe that he and the people around him, particularly, do not understand the seriousness of this problem.

"I think up to now at least, they have not really got it. I think they would be very wise to listen to what the Jewish community is saying today and to act on it. What I would urge the Labour leadership to do, collectively, is to recognise this is a real problem.

"It's got beyond the stage where words will solve this. He is going to have show that he really understands the issue, that the people around him really understand it, and that he's prepared to act on it...

"I think there are people around him at least who dont really think this is a serious issue and hopefully now they realise that it is."

And he argued that often criticism of Israel moved into the realm of anti-Semitism.

"You can be anti the policy of any one government in Israel. That's different from being anti the state of Israel and its existence - and when people are in that position it very quickly trends across into anti-Semitism."

In his letter to the Jewish Leadership Council and the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Mr Corbyn admitted that "newer forms of anti-Semitism had been woven into criticism of Israeli governments".

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