UK Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis
UK Chief Rabbi Ephraim MirvisOffice of the Chief Rabbi

The Chief Rabbi of Britain, Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, criticized Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and the party’s "utterly inadequate" response to anti-Semitism within its ranks.

In an op-ed in the Times, Rabbi Mirvis attacks as "mendacious fiction" Corbyn's claim in last week's televised election debate that Labour has "investigated every single case" of anti-Jewish racism.

"The claims by leadership figures in the Labour Party that it is 'doing everything' it reasonably can to tackle the scourge of anti-Jewish racism and that it has 'investigated every single case' are a mendacious fiction," he wrote.

Without referring to Corbyn by name, Rabbi Mirvis wrote, "How complicit in prejudice would a leader of Her Majesty’s opposition have to be in order to be considered unfit for high office?"

"Would associations with those who have openly incited hatred against Jews be enough? Would support for a racist mural, depicting powerful hook-nosed Jews supposedly getting rich at the expense of the weak and downtrodden be enough?” he added.

"Would describing as ‘friends’ those who endorse and even perpetrate the murder of Jews be enough? It seems not."

"We sit powerless, watching with incredulity as supporters of the Labour leadership have hounded parliamentarians, party members and even staff out of the party for facing down anti-Jewish racism,” wrote Rabbi Mirvis.

“Even as they received unspeakable threats against themselves and their families, the response of the Labour Leadership was utterly inadequate," he continued.

Admitting that raising concerns about the issue of anti-Semitism ahead of the December 12 election is "amongst the most painful moments" he has experienced since taking office, Rabbi Mirvis insisted he decided to speak out on behalf of the Jewish community.

"The Jewish community has endured the deep discomfort of being at the center of national political attention for nearly four years. We have been treated by many as an irritant, as opposed to a minority community with genuine concerns,” he wrote.

Labour’s leadership, he continued, “have never understood that their failure is not just one of procedure, which can be remedied with additional staff or new processes. It is a failure to see this as a human problem rather than a political one. It is a failure of culture.”

"It is a failure of leadership. A new poison – sanctioned from the very top – has taken root in the Labour Party."

The Chief Rabbi concluded by clarifying, "It is not my place to tell any person how they should vote."

"I regret being in this situation at all. I simply pose the following question: What will the result of this election say about the moral compass of our country? When December 12th arrives, I ask every person to vote with their conscience," he added.

Dozens of Labour members have been suspended over their anti-Semitic statements in recent years, and the party has been criticized for its failure to deal with the anti-Semitism within it.

Corbyn, who took control of the Labour Party in 2015, has faced ongoing accusations of anti-Semitism, both over his history of hostility towards Israel and support for anti-Israel terrorist groups, as well as the rise in anti-Jewish rhetoric within the party.

A 2018 poll found that nearly 86% of British Jews believe the Labour leader is anti-Semitic, compared to just 8.3% who believe he is not.

A poll conducted for The Jewish Chronicle last month found that just 7% of British Jews would even consider voting for Labour in this December’s general election.