British Jewish Leader Attacks Labour Leader’s ‘Deeply Disturbing’ Defense of Brother’s ‘Belittling of Antisemitism Problem’
The head of UK Jewry’s umbrella organization railed against Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn on Thursday for defending derogatory comments his brother made against a politician who called on the party to take more actions against antisemitism in it ranks.
Jonathan Arkush, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews issued a statement in response to what he called Corbyn’s “deeply disturbing” defense of his brother’s “belittling of the problem of antisemitism.”
The controversy in question arose after Jewish Labour MP Louise Ellman called on her party to take more action against the growing phenomenon of antisemitism in its ranks, and said that doing so was “not just about words.” Reacting to this, Corbyn’s brother, Piers, called her pleas “absurd” on Twitter on Sunday, and added, “All #Corbyns are committed #AntiNazi. #Zionists cant cope with anyone supporting rights for #Palestine.” The tweet has since been deleted.
In an interview with The Sun, the Labour leader defended these remarks, saying Piers “isn’t wrong” for speaking out against Ellman’s comments. He said, “My brother has his point of view, I have mine and we actually fundamentally agree — we are a family that were brought up fighting racism from the day we were born.”
Arkush elaborated further on why he considered the Corbyns’ behavior outrageous. “We cannot imagine that any other minority’s concerns would be dismissed off-hand in this way,” he said. “In the last few weeks we have witnessed a stream of clear-cut cases of antisemitism in the Labour Party, which can’t just be fobbed off as differences over Israel. Most of the Jewish community, numerous Labour MPs, Labour peers, and Labour’s London mayoral candidate are crying out for the leader to take action on antisemitism. It would be incomprehensible for Mr Corbyn to remain inert and refuse to take this form of racism in his party seriously.”