Jewish newspapers join forces to condemn Jeremy Corbyn's attempts to tackle Labour anti-Semitism

Posted On: 
26th July 2018

A Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government would pose an "existential threat to Jewish life" in the UK, Britain’s three leading Jewish newspapers have claimed.

In an unprecedented joint editorial on the front pages of the Jewish Chronicle, Jewish News and the Jewish Telegraph, the rival papers accuse Labour of showing "contempt for Jews and Israel", and attack the party's decision to adopt a "diluted" version of the International Holocaust Rememberance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.

And in a direct attack on Mr Corbyn, they express concern that "a man who has a problem seeing that hateful rhetoric aimed at Israel can easily step into anti-Semitism could be our next Prime Minister".

Labour breaks vow to clear majority of anti-Semitism cases by end of July

John McDonnell: Hodge attacked Corbyn because she 'misunderstood' Labour anti-Semitism rules

EXCL Former treasurer in Jeremy Corbyn's local Labour branch quits party over anti-Semitism

Explaining why they have decided to take the nighly unusual step, the papers say: "We do so because of the existential threat to Jewish life in this country that would be posed by a Jeremy Corbyn-led government.

"We do so because the party that was, until recently, the natural home for our community has seen its values and integrity eroded by Corbynite contempt for Jews and Israel.

"The stain and shame of anti-Semitism has coursed through Her Majesty’s Opposition since Jeremy Corbyn became leader in 2015."

Labour has come in for heavy criticism from Jewish groups and many of its own MPs since its ruling body moved to adopt a new code of conduct on anti-Semitism that stops short of the full IHRA working definition and its examples of abuse.

The party has said its code "expands on and contextualises" the IHRA definition for use by a political party.

But in the joint op-ed, the three papers say the new code leaves Labour members "free to claim Israel’s existence is a racist endeavour and compare Israeli policies to those of Nazi Germany, unless 'intent' - whatever that means - can be proved".

They argue that the move to omit IHRA examples relating to Israel is designed to spare "hundreds, if not thousands, of Labour and Momentum members" from expulsion.

They add: "With the Government in Brexit disarray, there is a clear and present danger that a man with a default blindness to the Jewish community’s fears, a man who has a problem seeing that hateful rhetoric aimed at Israel can easily step into anti-Semitism, could be our next Prime Minister."

A Labour spokesperson said a Corbyn-led government would pose "no threat of any kind whatsoever to Jewish people".

"The security and wellbeing of Jewish people is a priority for our party and in government we will always ensure schools, synagogues and institutions are properly protected," they said.

The spokesperson added: "We understand the strong concerns raised in the Jewish community and are seeking to engage with communal organisations to build trust and confidence in our party. We know there is a huge amount of work to do."

Labour has said it will continue to consult with Jewish groups about the new code, and the party says it has concerns that "one half of one of the IHRA's 11 examples" could be used "to deny Palestinians, including Palestinian citizens of Israel and their supporters, their rights and freedoms to describe the discrimination and injustices they face in the language they deem appropriate".

However, Labour chiefs will come under fresh pressure to change tack in September when MPs are expected to use a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) to demand the full adoption of the IHRA definition in its rulebook.

Labour MP for Redcar Anna Turley said the joint intervention from the Jewish titles was "upsetting" and urged the party to accept the IHRA definition in full.

Her backbench colleague Wes Streeting, MP for Ilford, meanwhile lamented what he called a "sorry state of affairs".