UK's Chief Rabbi warns against voting Labour because of anti-Semitism


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The UK's Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has warned UK voters against voting for the Labour party in the upcoming general election due to the party's anti-semitic stance. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has in the past made some deeply anti-semitic and offensive remarks and allowed anti-semitic attitudes to go unchallenged. However he is now saying that anti-semitism in his party is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.

(Edited on my laptop to add the article and link.)

The chief rabbi has strongly criticised Labour, claiming the party is not doing enough to root out anti-Jewish racism - and asked people to "vote with their conscience" in the general election.

In the Times, Ephraim Mirvis said "a new poison - sanctioned from the very top - has taken root" in the party.

Labour's claim it had investigated all cases of anti-Semitism in its ranks was a "mendacious fiction", he added.

But Jeremy Corbyn said the party had taken "rapid and effective" action.

At the launch of the party's "race and faith manifesto", the Labour leader said anti-Jewish racism was "vile and wrong" and would not be tolerated in any form under a future Labour government.

He said internal processes for dealing with anti-Semitism cases were "constantly under review" and his door would be open to Rabbi Mirvis and other faith leaders to discuss their concerns if he entered Downing Street.

Labour has been beset by allegations of anti-Semitism for more than three years, leading to the suspension of a number of high-profile figures such as Ken Livingstone and Chris Williamson, and an unprecedented investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

A number of prominent Jewish Labour politicians, including Luciana Berger and Louise Ellman, have quit the party after being the subject of anti-Semitic abuse on social media while others have accused Mr Corbyn of personally endorsing anti-Semitic tropes and imagery.

'Gripped by anxiety'

In his article, the Orthodox chief rabbi of Great Britain and Northern Ireland - who is the spiritual leader of the United Synagogue, the largest umbrella group of Jewish communities in the country - says raising his concerns "ranks among the most painful moments I have experienced since taking office".

But he claims "the overwhelming majority of British Jews are gripped by anxiety" at the prospect of a Labour victory in 12 December's general election.

He writes: "The way in which the leadership of the Labour Party has dealt with anti-Jewish racism is incompatible with the British values of which we are so proud - of dignity and respect for all people.

"It has left many decent Labour members and parliamentarians, both Jewish and non-Jewish, ashamed of what has transpired."

He adds that it was "not my place to tell any person how they should vote" but he urged the public to "vote with their conscience".

The chief rabbi claimed the response of Labour's leadership to threats against parliamentarians, members and staff has been "utterly inadequate" and said it "can no longer claim to be the party of equality and anti-racism".


Mike Katz, the chair of the Jewish Labour Movement group which is officially affiliated to the party, said the chief rabbi was "absolutely right" and there had been a failure of leadership over anti-Semitism in Labour.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said the chief rabbi's "unprecedented" intervention "ought to alert us to the deep sense of insecurity and fear felt by many British Jews".

In a statement, he said everyone should be able to "live in accordance with their beliefs and freely express their culture and faith".

The Labour peer Lord Dubs, the child refugee campaigner who fled Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia in the 1930s, said he regretted some of the language Mr Corbyn had used in the past about Israel and the fact he had met with groups who denied its right to exist.

But he told BBC Radio 4's Today these episodes were "quite a long time ago" and had to be seen "in the context" of Mr Corbyn's support for peace in the Middle East.

"I think things have happened under his leadership which should have been stopped way back," he added. "I believe the Labour party is moving forward. It is not good enough what has happened in the past."
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