British Jewish community leaders agree to meet with Labour Party head Jeremy Corbyn


(JTA) — British Jewish community leaders agreed to meet with embattled Labour Party head Jeremy Corbyn to discuss anti-Semitism in the party ranks.

In a letter sent Wednesday to Corbyn, Jonathan Arkush, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and Jonathan Goldstein, chair of the Jewish Leadership Council, thanked Corbyn “for the commitment you have made to addressing the anguish amongst many people in the Jewish community over the issue of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party.”

The Jewish leaders also made clear in the letter that, while they agree that Labour’s new General Secretary, Jennie Formby, should take part in any meeting, fighting against anti-Semitism in the party will require Corbyn, as its head, to “use your own personal authority as leader of the Labour Party to drive the changes required and to ensure that there will be significant, timely and measurable progress on the issues we laid out in our letter of the 28th March.”

In that open letter to the Labour Party Jewish leaders declared that “enough is enough,” and that Corbyn is “repeatedly found alongside people with blatantly anti-Semitic views.” The party has come under fire for harboring anti-Semitic members and leaders. British Jews and an interparliamentary committee of inquiry have dismissed as unsatisfactory an internal Labour audit that largely cleared the party of anti-Semitism allegations. Corbyn has vowed to kick out any Labour member caught making racist or anti-Semitic statements. Dozens were expelled but many others accused of these actions were allowed to stay or were readmitted.

Corbyn has been calling for a meeting with Jewish leaders for more than a week, since about 2,000 people gathered outside the houses of Parliament in London to protest anti-Semitism in the British Labour Party. Corbyn had published a written apology prior to the march. Jewish groups had previously refused a meeting with Corbyn, until he said that he had plans to discuss regarding combatting the anti-Semitism.

Earlier on Wednesday Corbyn had sent a letter to Jewish leaders in which he said that “I place no limitations on the points you would wish to raise and happy for the agenda to cover the issues you’ve already outlined.” He added: “I appreciate and understand the anger you express and reiterate my determination to fight anti-Semitism within the Labour Party and society at large.”

Among the Jewish leaders’ requests, according to the BBC, are that cases of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party be resolved on a “fixed timescale;” that Labour members and lawmakers should refrain from sharing a platform with those who have been suspended or expelled from the party for anti-Semitism; for improved education about anti-Semitism, including a “clear list of unacceptable language”; and an independent ombudsman to oversee efforts to tackle anti-Semitism in Labour, with updates offered to the Jewish community.

Corbyn came under fire earlier this week for attending a seder hosted by a far-left Jewish group called Jewdas, angering the mainstream Jewish community.

No date or place has been set for the meeting.


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