Church of England appears to back chief rabbi’s stand against Labour

In thinly veiled criticism of UK opposition party, archbishop of Canterbury says many British Jews feel ‘deep sense of insecurity and fear’ at prospect of Corbyn as next PM

Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, talks to fellow Anglican leaders in Amman, Jordan, May 2, 2017. (AP/Sam McNeil)
Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, talks to fellow Anglican leaders in Amman, Jordan, May 2, 2017. (AP/Sam McNeil)

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.

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.”

The Archbishop of Cantebury Justin Welby (l) and the British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, visit the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site, in Jerusalem’s Old City, on May 3, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“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.

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed
Register for free
and continue reading
Registering also lets you comment on articles and helps us improve your experience. It takes just a few seconds.
Already registered? Enter your email to sign in.
Please use the following structure:
Or Continue with
By registering you agree to the terms and conditions. Once registered, you’ll receive our Daily Edition email for free.
Register to continue
Or Continue with
Log in to continue
Sign in or Register
Or Continue with
check your email
Check your email
We sent an email to you at .
It has a link that will sign you in.