Jewish community leaders have called Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn a “figurehead” for anti-Semitism and accused him of making Labour an unsafe space for Jewish people.
A protest was staged outside Parliament on Monday, organised by the Jewish Leadership Council and the British Board of Deputies, two bodies which represent Jewish interests in the UK. They feel Mr. Corbyn has not responded strongly enough to anti-Semitic sentiment within his party.
Corbyn has issued a statement of apology, saying “We recognise that anti-Semitism has occurred in pockets within the Labour party, causing pain and hurt to our Jewish community in the Labour party and the rest of the country. I am sincerely sorry for the pain which has been caused.”
The Labour leader requested an “urgent meeting” with the leaders of the two groups to discuss the issue. Board of Deputies president Jonathan Arkush and Jewish Leadership Council chair Jonathan Goldstein responded with a list of conditions that must be met before such a meeting can occur.
These conditions include Mr. Corbyn taking personal responsibility for addressing anti-Semitism in his party, appointing an independent administrator to oversee and report on the efforts to solve the problem, and an email stating the U.K.’s and Labour’s official definition of anti-Semitism being sent to all party members.
Corbyn has said that Labour will implement every necessary procedure to stamp out anti-Semitism from within the party, including a “programme of political education to increase awareness and understanding of all forms of anti-Semitism.”
Labour’s new general secretary Jennie Formby has been tasked with creating a targeted plan for addressing the party’s problem with anti-Jewish rhetoric and attitudes, which will be discussed at the shadow cabinet’s first meeting after the Easter break.
Anti-Semitism and other discriminatory sentiment has no place in society, but especially not in politics. Leaders should set a positive example for the citizens they represent, and it doesn’t seem as though Mr. Corbyn and other Labour MPs have done so by failing to address clear anti-Semitism within the party.
Though they have taken the appropriate steps to begin working towards a solution since the issue rose to national attention a few days ago, the fact that it took a large protest for such action to be taken shows how politicians would often rather brush problems under the rug than face them head on.
Labour have made it seem that they will do everything they can to fix the problem, but it remains to be seen if Mr. Corbyn will meet with the leaders of the Jewish activist groups, or if the party will follow through on the promises they have made.
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