Jewish leaders express ‘disgust’ at Corbyn’s response to anti-Semitism probe

By Shaun Connolly, PA Political Correspondent
·3-min read

Prominent Jewish community figures have expressed “disgust” at ex-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s response to a report into allegations of anti-Semitism in the party by a human rights watchdog.

The comments came after Jewish leaders met with Mr Corbyn’s successor as Labour chief, Sir Keir Starmer.

The discussions were in the wake of a scathing probe into Labour by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

Sir Keir suspended Mr Corbyn from the party because of his predecessor’s public comments on the EHRC report.

Sir Keir met with Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jonathan Goldstein, chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council, Mark Gardner, chief executive of the Community Security Trust, and Mike Katz, chairman of the Jewish Labour Movement.

In a joint statement after the meeting, the Jewish community leaders said they thanked Sir Keir and Labour for their “firm and constructive response” to the “damning verdict” delivered by the EHRC.

They said: “We expressed our disgust that his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn had, by contrast, responded by diminishing and dismissing the legal findings of the report, thereby challenging the Labour Party’s new commitment to rooting out the problem and giving the party no choice but to suspend him.

“While we discussed a constructive means of Labour delivering the technical recommendations of the EHRC report, a crucial element of the way forward is about culture.

“Those who are responsible for obstructing the new, positive direction set for the party around anti-Semitism and undermining the confidence of the Jewish community and Jewish Labour Party members are part of the problem and the Labour leadership will need to find a way to put a stop to it.

“Calls for leniency on the basis of party unity are misplaced when the issue at hand is anti-Semitism. If the party is to show zero tolerance to anti-Semitism, there can be no unity with anti-Semites or their enablers.

“Indeed, the EHRC rightly dismissed such political considerations as being inappropriate for an issue in which Labour has moral and legal responsibilities.

“Recognising the progress made, but that there is still a long way to go, we expressed our ongoing willingness to work with Keir Starmer and Labour to return the party to being proudly and unequivocally anti-racist once more.”

The EHRC found that Labour broke equality law when Mr Corbyn was in charge, but he refused to fully accept the watchdog’s findings and said anti-Semitism had been “dramatically overstated for political reasons”.

Mr Corbyn said: “I do not accept all” of the EHRC findings.

The EHRC concluded the party was responsible for unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination, and found evidence of “political interference” in the complaints process by Mr Corbyn’s office.

The former leader has said he will “strongly contest” the decision to suspend him pending an investigation, which also meant the Islington North MP had the Labour whip removed in Parliament.

Sir Keir has called on Mr Corbyn to “reflect” on his comments following the release of the EHRC report.