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
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.”


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.”