UK Jewish leader calls on Corbyn to make an ‘abject apology’ for anti-Semitism

President of the Board of Deputies Marie van der Zyl demands UK Labour Party chief stop hiding from recent accusations and end disciplinary action against his critics

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

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

The top official representing British Jewry on Thursday called on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to make “an abject apology” for anti-Semitism in his party, and end disciplinary action against his critics.

President of the British Board of Deputies Marie van der Zyl further demanded he expel top Labour official Peter Willsman, who claimed allegations of anti-Semitism were being invented by “Jewish Trump fanatics.”

“Jeremy Corbyn needs to stop hiding and make an abject apology to UK Jews in his own voice,” van der Zyl tweeted.

Van der Zyl accused Corbyn of keeping a low profile following the most recent series of accusations that have erupted against him.

In recent days it emerged that he had supported switching out “Holocaust” from the title of Holocaust Memorial Day, hosted an event at the House of Commons in 2010 in which a Holocaust survivor compared Israel to the Nazis over its actions in the Gaza Strip, and suggested in 2012 that an Israeli conspiracy was behind jihadist terror attacks in Egypt.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn leaves the stage after delivering an address at Queens University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, May 24, 2018. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images via JTA)

A series of scandals and controversies have ensnared the party, culminating with its recently released policy on anti-Semitism, which has been condemned — including by members of the party – for omitting Israel-related definitions that have become standard elsewhere, and for not embracing the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism.

“He must adopt the IHRA antisemitism definition and all examples,” van der Zyl wrote. “He should expel Peter Willsman. He should stop ridiculous show trials of Hodge/Austin and refer himself to equalities training.”

Labour MPs Dame Margaret Hodge and Ian Austin are two lawmakers under investigation for their criticism of Corbyn’s attitude towards allegations of party anti-Semitism.

“Where is Jeremy Corbyn?” van der Zyl asked and slammed the Labour leader for only issuing a statement in which he apologized for “concerns and anxiety” over the House of Commons event which was held on Holocaust Memorial Day of that year.

The event, his calls to change the title of memorial day, and the comparison of Israel to the Nazi regime are a breach of guidelines of anti-Semitism published by the IHRA, she said.

“As new and very personal revelations about Jeremy Corbyn continue to shock, he is refusing to speak to media and is hiding behind a half-hearted ‘apology’ no doubt crafted by his spin-doctors,” she wrote. “Why are we not hearing from the man who’s supposed to be the leader himself?”

Last Thursday the Campaign Against Antisemitism published a video of an interview Corbyn gave to Iran’s Press TV in 2012 during which he suggested that Israel was behind jihadist terror attacks in Egypt because it wanted to destabilize the Cairo government to prevent it building ties with the Palestinians.

When asked to comment on a jihadist terror attack which killed 16 Egyptian border guards and police, Corbyn responded, “You have to look at the big picture.”

“In whose interests is it to destabilize the new government in Egypt? In whose interest is it to kill Egyptians, other than Israel, concerned at the growing closeness of relationship between Palestine and the new Egyptian government?”

When the Iranian interviewer questioned why a Muslim would attack his fellow, Corbyn again directed accusations against the Jewish state.

“It seems a bit unlikely that would happen during Ramadan, to put it mildly, and I suspect the hand of Israel in this whole process of destabilization,” he said.

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.

JTA and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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