Labour head Corbyn looking to address anti-Semitism at London Jewish museum
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Labour head Corbyn looking to address anti-Semitism at London Jewish museum

Venue says talks ongoing, but doesn’t want to ‘make things worse’; Jewish community members said to threaten boycott of museum if it hosts embattled party leader

Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn gestures to the crowd in Trafalgar Square during a protest against the visit of US President Donald Trump to the UK, on July 13, 2018. (Niklas HALLEN/AFP)
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn gestures to the crowd in Trafalgar Square during a protest against the visit of US President Donald Trump to the UK, on July 13, 2018. (Niklas HALLEN/AFP)

Beset by allegations of anti-Semitism, the UK’s Labour Party has reportedly proposed having faction leader Jeremy Corbyn address mounting concerns in the community at London’s Jewish Museum.

A Labour source told The Guardian newspaper that Corbyn was looking for an “appropriate” venue to deliver a message on anti-Semitism, which would take place next week.

The party, which has faced near-daily scandals regarding anti-Jewish sentiments within the party, has approached the Jewish Museum, the London-based Jewish Chronicle first reported on Thursday. Corbyn also has been fighting accusations of harboring anti-Semitic sentiments.

The event could take place as early as Monday, according to the Jewish Chronicle, though the museum’s chief executive said no agreement to host Corbyn had been reached and there was still uncertainty regarding what kind of message Corbyn would deliver.

“We are still trying to work out what [Mr Corbyn’s office] is asking from us — whether it is a discussion, a statement or a speech,” Museum head Abigail Morris told the JC.

“We would want to be part of a healing process — not something that will make things worse. We are very proud of being a cross-communal space and we want to be a place where positive dialogue can take place.”

Morris said the proposal indicated that the British Jewish Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council would be invited to the event, but that neither organization had been informed about it by the party.

Labour sources told the JC that media reports that the museum had rejected the offer were false.

However, JC editor Stephen Pollard said he had received several messages from community members who said they would boycott the museum if Corbyn were allowed to speak there.

The proposed speech comes as rumors have spread that Labour is preparing to announce it will adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism in full.

Last month, the party’s ruling body and leadership endorsed a code of conduct that excluded several of the IHRA examples of anti-Semitism. The party has come under fire from Jewish members of Labour and the British Jewish community for not adopting the full definition.

Galleries in the Jewish Museum in London, March 16, 2010. (Lefteris Pitarakis/AP)

Earlier Thursday, Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board, Anglo Jewry’s main representative organization, demanded that Corbyn publicly apologize over the anti-Semitism issue in his party and, among other things, adopt the IHRA guidelines.

Corbyn met with leaders of the Board and the JLC in April, but while the Labour leader described the meeting as “positive and constructive,” the Jewish leaders said they were disappointed with the talks and that Corbyn had failed to back up his statements against anti-Semitism with action.

In March, the Jewish leadership sent a letter to Corbyn outlining six steps he and his party could take to address anti-Semitism, one of which was adopting the IHRA guidelines.

New British Board of Deputies president Marie van der Zyl. (Courtesy)

The current Labour guidelines on anti-Semitism, approved last month, omits at least four points featured in the original IHRA list, including accusing Jews of “being more loyal to Israel” than their own country; claiming that Israel’s existence is a “racist endeavor”; applying a “double standard” on Israel; and comparing “contemporary Israeli policy” to that of the Nazis.

Labour under Corbyn, a hard-left politician who has called Hezbollah and Hamas his “friends,” has come under intense scrutiny in the media over anti-Semitic rhetoric by party members as well as its leader’s own anti-Israel rhetoric. In 2016, an interparliamentary committee accused Labour of creating a “safe space for those with vile attitudes towards Jewish people.”

On Thursday, an interview he gave Iraqi television in 2015, in which he calls the Balfour declaration “bizarre” and questions the founding if Israel, resurfaced.

Corbyn has maintained that Labour will not tolerate racist rhetoric by its members. Dozens were kicked out over anti-Semitic statements. However, the party has kept on many Labour members whom Jewish community leaders said engaged in anti-Semitic hate speech.

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