UK Labour leader acknowledges anti-Semitism problem

Jeremy Corbyn: Anti-Jewish bigotry has reared its head in our movement - and we must drive it out.

Elad Benari ,

Jeremy Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn

British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn acknowledged on Sunday that his party has an anti-Semitism problem and added the party needs to “educate” itself on the issue, The Guardian reports.

Corbyn’s comments were made in an email to Labour members as the party launched an educational webpage that hopes to help drive anti-Semitism out of the party.

Labour has provided members with “basic tools” to call out anti-Semitic stereotypes and conspiracy theories in an attempt to defeat the problem. The materials, on the party’s website, include guidance on how to avoid antisemitism when criticizing Israel, and explanations of terms such as Zionism.

In the email, Corbyn wrote that he recognized that “anti-Jewish bigotry has reared its head in our movement. Hatred towards Jewish people is rising in many parts of the world. Our party is not immune from that poison – and we must drive it out from our movement.”

He said the party must face up to the unsettling truth that “a small number of Labour members hold anti-Semitic views and a larger number don’t recognize anti-Semitic stereotypes and conspiracy theories.”

“The evidence is clear enough. The worst cases of anti-Semitism in our party have included Holocaust denial, crude Jewish-banker stereotypes, conspiracy theories blaming Israel for 9/11 or every war on the Rothschild family, and even one member who appeared to believe that Hitler had been misunderstood,” wrote Corbyn, according to The Guardian.

“So please engage with the materials we are producing, which will be placed on a page on our website, along with other resources, so our movement can be the strongest anti-racist force in our country,” he concluded.

The Labour party has been shaken by accusations of anti-Semitism for several years, with dozens of members having been suspended over their anti-Semitic statements.

Corbyn himself has been accused of holding anti-Semitic views by senior UK Jewish leaders.

Much of the criticism against Corbyn is over his playing down the anti-Semitism in his party and alienating Jews, but he insists he is not an anti-Semite and claims he has opposed it his entire life.

Sunday’s email comes before a challenging week for the leadership in which the shadow cabinet will meet to discuss anti-Semitism before Corbyn faces MPs at the parliamentary Labour party.

The release of the webpage comes after Labour’s main Jewish group, the Jewish Labour Movement, wrote to every member of the shadow cabinet urging them to show “real resolve” to end what it claims is institutional racism against Jews in the party.

The webpage launch followed accusations by the Board of Deputies of British Jews that the party was “letting off” people accused of anti-Semitism, after a leaked draft of its disciplinary process showed that some members could avoid punishment in serious cases where they had apologized and agreed to undergo education.