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Fri, 14 August 2020

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WATCH: Jeremy Corbyn says he is 'sorry for the hurt caused' by anti-Semitism in Labour

WATCH: Jeremy Corbyn says he is 'sorry for the hurt caused' by anti-Semitism in Labour

Liz Bates

3 min read

Jeremy Corbyn has today apologised to Jewish people over the “hurt that’s been caused” by anti-Semitism in the Labour party and said it is his responsibility to root it out.

In a video released on social media the Labour leader also admitted that the party had been “too slow” to process anti-Semitism cases and said building bridges with the Jewish community was a “priority”.

He said: "Driving anti-Semitism out of the party for good and working with the Jewish community to rebuild trust are vital priorities.

“I am sorry for the hurt that has been caused to many Jewish people. We have been too slow in processing many disciplinary cases of mostly online anti-Semitic abuse by party members…

“It is my responsibility to root out anti-Semitism in the Labour party.”  

The Labour leader also played down the scale of the problem, saying the number of cases over the last 3 years “represents less than 0.1% of Labour’s membership of more than half a million”.

But he added: “One is too many.”   

It comes amid speculation that the party is preparing to widen its definition of anti-Semitism by accepting three more of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s eleven illustrative examples.

According to Jewish News, Mr Corbyn is set to concede that comparisons between Israel and the Nazis are anti-Semitic, but will stop short of accepting that the Jewish state is a “racist endeavour”.

The Labour leadership has been under fire from Jewish groups and some of its own MPs since it decided not to take on the IHRA’s definition in full as part of a new code of conduct.

Responding to the speculation today, the Board of Deputies of British Jews said on Twitter it would not “accept a watered down definition designed to let antisemites off the hook.”

Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson has also spoken out on the issue, warning that the party will "disappear into a vortex of eternal shame and embarrassment" if it does not tackle the anti-Semitism crisis.

In an interview with the Observer, he also called for disciplinary action against Labour backbenchers Margaret Hodge and Ian Austin – who have both clashed with Mr Corbyn over the issue – to be dropped.

Meanwhile, former minister Joan Ryan has branded the Labour leader “grotesque” over an 2012 Iranian state TV appearance in which he said the “hand of Israel” was behind a jihadi terror attack in Egypt.

In a letter to the party’s general secretary Jennie Formby, Ms Ryan wrote: “Mr Corbyn’s claim is ludicrous, ­grotesque and entirely unfounded in fact.

"It evokes a sinister anti-Semitic ­conspiracy theory alleging Israeli origins in terrorism.”

Read the most recent article written by Liz Bates - Jeremy Corbyn admits he would rather see a Brexit deal than a second referendum

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