The Church of England on Tuesday expressed support for the Jewish community amid worries of rising anti-Semitism, after the country’s chief rabbi took a stand against the Labour party and its leader Jeremy Corbyn ahead of next month’s general election.
A statement by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby on Tuesday warned of a “deep sense of insecurity and fear felt by many British Jews.”
The statement was released hours after Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis accused Labour party chief Jeremy Corbyn of allowing the “poison” of anti-Semitism to take root in his party.
“None of us can afford to be complacent. Voicing words that commit to a stand against antisemitism requires a corresponding effort in visible action,” Welby’s statement said.
He did not mention Corbyn by name.
That the Chief Rabbi should be compelled to make such an unprecedented statement at this time ought to alert us to the deep sense of insecurity and fear felt by many British Jews: pic.twitter.com/DNxr0Qxht5
— Archbishop of Canterbury (@JustinWelby) November 26, 2019
Welby’s statement came less than a week after the Church of England admitted in a major report that centuries of Christian anti-Semitism helped lead to the Holocaust.
On Monday, Mirvis warned in a column for The Times that “the very soul of our nation is at stake” in the December 12 election. He said that Corbyn and his allies had failed to stop anti-Jewish prejudice and “hounded” those who tried to challenge it.
Labour’s election campaign has been dogged by recurring allegations that Corbyn — a longtime champion of the Palestinians — has allowed anti-Jewish prejudice to fester in the left-of-center party.
Corbyn has called anti-Semitism “a poison and an evil in our society” and said he was working to root it out of the party.
But, Mirvis said, “the way in which the leadership has dealt with anti-Jewish racism is incompatible with the British values of which we are so proud.”
“It is not my place to tell any person how they should vote. … I simply pose the question: What will the result of this election say about the moral compass of our country?” he wrote.
It is rare for a religious leader to publicly call out the leader of a British political party.
Polls suggest that just six percent of UK Jews plan to vote Labour. Nearly half said they would “seriously consider” emigrating if Corbyn — a man 87% of those polled believe is an anti-Semite — gets to Downing Street.
Agencies contributed to this report.