Theresa May accuses Jeremy Corbyn of 'turning a blind eye' to anti-Semitism in karaoke jibe

Posted On: 
12th December 2016

Theresa May today launched a blistering attack on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, accusing him of “turning a blind eye” to anti-Semitism in his party.

Jeremy Corbyn and Shami Chakrabarti at the launch of her report into anti-Semitism in Labour, which found the party was not "overrun" with hostility towards Jews
Credit: 
PA Images

The Prime Minister also said that “no amount of karaoke” could make up for the party's anti-Semitism problems, in a swipe at the party's deputy Tom Watson who sang “the people of Israel live” in Hebrew at a recent Labour Friends of Israel lunch. 

Mr Corbyn has been dogged by claims that he is soft on incidents of anti-Semitism in Labour - with a powerful Commons committee saying he had created a “safe space” for hostility towards Jews.

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Speaking to Conservative Friends of Israel, Mrs May announced a firm definition for anti-Semitism and said it was “unacceptable” that discrimination towards Jews continues to exist in Britain.

She added: “It is disgusting that these twisted views are being found in British politics. Of course, I am talking mainly about the Labour party and their hard-left allies.

“In fact, I understand this lunch has a lot to live up to after the extraordinary scenes at the Labour Friends of Israel event.

“It began, unusually, with Tom Watson giving a full-throated rendition of Am Yisrael Hai. The audience joined in as his baritone voice carried across the hall.

“'Am Yisrael Hai - the people of Israel live’. It is a sentiment everybody in this room wholeheartedly agrees with.

“But let me say this: no amount of karaoke can make up for turning a blind eye to anti-Semitism. No matter what Labour say – or sing – they cannot ignore what has been happening in their party."

She added: “Anti-Semitism should have no place in politics and no place in this country. And I am proud to lead a party that takes the firmest stand against it.”

'REPUGNANT'

Mr Corbyn backed the adoption of an official definition today as he condemned anti-Semitism as “repugnant”.

The definition was developed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance earlier this year and reads: “Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews.

"Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

Downing Street said the move would “ensure that culprits will not be able to get away with being ant-Semitic because the term is ill-defined, or because different organisations or bodies have different interpretations of it”.

'UNACCEPTABLE'

A spokesperson for Mr Corbyn said: “Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party share the view that language or behaviour that displays hatred towards Jews is anti-Semitism, and is as repugnant and unacceptable as any other form of racism,” a spokesperson said.

“Jeremy has consistently spoken out against all forms of anti-Semitism and condemned all anti-Semitic abuse, and set up the Charkrabarti inquiry into anti-Semitism and other forms of racism.

“Its recommendations have already led to far-reaching changes to the rules and practice of the Labour party.

“He has also taken decisive disciplinary action over allegations of anti-Semitism, including a series of suspensions and exclusions from membership.”