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