(JTA) – Citing recent allegations of anti-Semitism and Israel hatred against several members of the Labour Party in Britain, the head of a major group representing British Jews said Jews can no longer trust the party.
Jonathan Arkush, the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, made the statement in an interview published Thursday in the online edition of the Evening Standard.
“Frankly, most people in the Jewish community can’t trust Labour,” Arkush said.
Relations between the political, mainstream establishment of the British Jewish community and Labour deteriorated following the election of Jeremy Corbyn in September to head the opposition party.
A hardcore socialist deemed by many as too radical to lead Labour back to power, he has alienated many Jews – which as a community used to be traditionally supportive of Labour – with his endorsement of anti-Semitic enemies of the Jewish state, including the terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah.
Labour has seen a string of scandals involving alleged anti-Semitism, including at its Oxford University chapter, which is now the subject of a party probe.
Separately, a Labour lawmaker in Parliament, Vicki Kirby, was suspended this week after it was revealed she suggested in a series of social media posts saying that Adolf Hitler might be a “Zionist god” and Jews have “big noses,” and asking why Islamic State was not attacking Israel.
Corbyn has rejected accusations that he endorses anti-Semites as “ludicrous and wrong,” and reiterated statements on his determination to fight racism in all its forms. But many British Jews remained suspicious in view of his public endorsements, including in 2009, of activists from Hezbollah and Hamas as “friends.”
Reacting to the incidents of alleged anti-Semitism by Labour representatives, Arkush said: “It confirms the belief we have had for a long time that there is a real problem of anti-Semitism on the far left, which now eclipses the anti-Semitism that we have always seen coming from the far right.”