Outgoing Jewish Communal Chief Warns ‘Antisemitic’ Labour Leader Corbyn May ‘Drive Jews Out of UK’
The outgoing president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews told a prominent national newspaper on Thursday that Jeremy Corbyn — the far-left leader of the opposition Labour Party — holds views on Israel’s legitimacy that are antisemitic.
In comments slammed as “unfounded and outrageous” by Labour officials, Arkush — in his final media interview before stepping down — said Corbyn held senior positions in organizations that “delegitimized the State of Israel,” such as the Stop the War Coalition and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
“Delegitimizing the State of Israel is antisemitic,” Arkush told The Telegraph newspaper. “He was a chairman of Stop the War, which is responsible for some of the worst anti-Israel discourse. He has never disavowed that sentiment. Is this double speak? What are we supposed to think?”
Arkush added that if Corbyn “shares the prevalent discourse about Israel, then that view is unquestionably antisemitic.”
Elected as Labour leader in 2015, Corbyn’s three years in the post have been accompanied by an alarming rise in antisemitism in the party’s ranks. Arkush revealed that he challenged Corbyn at their face-to-face meeting in April for “his real views about Israel.” He asked the Labour leader, “‘Why is there nothing good you can say about Israel?’ He couldn’t answer. He was silent.”
Arkush observed that with the election of Corbyn as Labour chief, “it seemed people who had a habit of participating in antisemitic discourse thought some sort of space had opened up for them, when they could say things that previously they knew they couldn’t.”
A spokesperson for Corbyn denied Arkush’s claims without addressing the comments made about the Labour leader’s associations with extremist and antisemitic groups.
“Jeremy has been absolutely clear that he is a militant opponent of antisemitism and is committed to driving it out of our movement,” the spokesperson said in a statement quoted by Jewish media outlets in Great Britain. “Our party has deep roots in the Jewish community and is campaigning to increase support and confidence in Labour among Jewish people in the UK.”