Almost 40 percent of British Jews would “seriously consider emigrating” if Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn became prime minister, according to a poll conducted for The Jewish Chronicle published Wednesday.
The crisis over anti-Semitism in the Labour Party — including its failure to fully adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance‘s (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism until Tuesday — has caused a major schism within its ranks and led Jews to express fears over their future in the country.
Corbyn says anti-Semitism has no place in the Labour Party, but he has been roundly criticized over reports of rampant anti-Jewish prejudice, for his own allegedly anti-Semitic statements and activities, and for not backing the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism.
The poll found that 38.53% of Jews would “seriously consider emigrating” if Corbyn became prime minister. He leads the main opposition party, and it is considered a realistic possibility that Labour could unseat Theresa May’s governing Conservative Party in a future general election.
In January 2015, months before Corbyn became party leader, a similar poll — which was conducted following Paris’s January 7 Charlie Hebdo massacre and subsequent January 9 Jewish HyperCacher supermarket murders — found that only 11% of British Jews were considering leaving the UK, the Chronicle said.
In the new poll, women were more likely to consider emigrating than men — 44% compared to 32.7%. And over half (50.83%) of Jews aged 35-54 would seriously considering leaving the country if Corbyn became premier.
The poll gave weight to comments earlier this week by Britain’s former chief rabbi Lord (Jonathan) Sacks, who said in an interview that with the rise of Corbyn, Jews were currently facing an “existential threat” in Britain, and many were considering leaving the country.
“When people hear the kind of language that has been coming out of Labour, that’s been brought to the surface among Jeremy Corbyn’s earlier speeches, they cannot but feel an existential threat,” Sacks told the BBC in an interview broadcast Sunday.
“Jews have been in Britain since 1656, I know of no other occasion in these 362 years when Jews – the majority of our community – are asking ‘is this country safe to bring up our children?'” he added. “Now, this is very, very worrying.”
In an interview a week before, Sacks branded Corbyn a dangerous anti-Semite. Labour rejected that allegation as absurd and offensive.
The poll of 710 Jews was carried out by Survation from August 13 and September 4, a period when several past speeches hostile to Israel and Zionism by the Labour leader were revealed, as was the fact that he laid a wreath at a Tunisia cemetery where Palestinian terrorists involved in the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre are buried.
On Tuesday Corbyn tried in vain to get his party to declare that it should not be considered anti-Semitic to describe Israel and/or the circumstances of Israel’s establishment as racist.
Labour’s National Executive Committee adopted the provisions of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, together with a vague and controversial caveat declaring that the commitment to the IHRA definition “will not in any way undermine freedom of expression on Israel or the rights of Palestinians.”
Corbyn, however, sought to further dilute the significance of adopting the IHRA definition, by having the meeting also approve a statement declaring that it should not “be regarded as anti-Semitic to describe Israel, its policies or the circumstances around its foundation as racist.” His proposal found no support and was not voted on.