UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said Sunday that British Jews have nothing to fear if his party wins the upcoming election in December, amid reports that many members of the Jewish community would consider leaving the country if he comes to power.
The comments by Corbyn, who has been accused of failing to deal with a surge of anti-Semitism in his party, came after the Jewish Labour Movement said it would only campaign for a select few Labour candidates.
“Anti-Semitism and racism is an evil within our society. I’ve done everything to confront it throughout my life, and will always do so,” Corbyn told the Guardian newspaper.
“We want this country to be safe for all people. An attack on a synagogue, an attack on a mosque, an attack on a church – an attack on a person walking down the street because they’re perceived to be different from the rest of us – we simply can’t tolerate it.”
Even though the issue of Brexit is set to dominate the December vote, many Jewish voters, even those opposed to the Conservative vow to take Britain out of Europe, feel they cannot vote for Labour.
According to a poll published last week, just seven percent of British Jews said they would even consider supporting Corbyn’s party.
Also Sunday, the Sunday Telegraph quoted Conservative Party chairman James Cleverly as saying that Jewish friends of his had told him “they would be out of here” because they feared the consequences of a victory for the Labour leader.
Last September it was reported that nearly 40% of British Jews would “seriously consider emigrating” if Corbyn became prime minister. And in March, a survey revealed that 87% of Jews view Corbyn as anti-Semitic.
Jewish groups have accused Corbyn, a far-left politician, of allowing a massive rise in anti-Semitism within the ranks of the party that was once considered the natural home of British Jewry. Thousands of cases of alleged hate speech against Jews have been recorded within Labour since 2015, when Corbyn was elected to lead the party.
The Board of Deputies of British Jews has accused Corbyn of encouraging anti-Semitic rhetoric and at times engaging in it, though he disputes the claim.
Corbyn himself has drawn criticism for his actions. Last year he expressed regret for having defended a 2012 anti-Semitic mural in London’s East End. The mural, named Freedom of Humanity, was painted on a property near Brick Lane by the Los Angeles-based graffiti artist Kalen Ockerman. It depicted a group of men — seemingly caricatures of Jewish bankers and businessmen — counting their money on a Monopoly board balanced on the backs of naked workers.
In April, Corbyn was found to have authored a glowing foreword to a book that claims that Jews control global financial systems and describes them as “men of a single and peculiar race.”
In addition, the Hamas terror group has thanked Corbyn for his solidarity in recognizing Palestinian mourning over the 71st anniversary of the formation of the State of Israel.
The Labour leader has in the past been criticized for calling terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah “friends” when inviting members for a parliamentary meeting in 2009. He later downplayed the comment and said he regretted using the term.
Last year it emerged that in 2014 Corbyn attended a ceremony that honored the terrorists behind the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre. He later said, “I was present when [a wreath] was laid, I don’t think I was actually involved in it.”