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Two Major Party Groups, Prominent UK Rabbi Advise Against Voting for Corbyn-Led Labour

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn delivers the keynote speech at a Labour conference in Liverpool, Sept. 26, 2016. Photo: Reuters / Phil Noble.

Two major UK Labour party groups have come out against voting for Labour in the upcoming parliamentary elections in December while it is under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, and a prominent British rabbi advised his congregants to do the same.

Since the far-left Corbyn was elected as Labour chief in 2015, the party has been wracked by antisemitism scandals, forcing the resignation or dismissal of a series of members and officials. Polls show the overwhelming majority of British Jews consider Corbyn to be personally antisemitic.

The Jewish Labour Movement issued a statement on Thursday saying, “Since the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader in 2015, a culture of antisemitism has been allowed to emerge and fester in the Party at all levels.”

“When the answer has been to take swift, decisive action, the reality has been equivocation and token gestures,” the statement held. “Time and time again, the Party has not engaged in good faith to try to implement the actions that we believe are necessary to tackle anti-Jewish racism.”

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“At our Annual General Meeting in April, our members unanimously adopted a policy deeming Jeremy Corbyn unfit to be Prime Minister as a result of his abject failure on antisemitism,” the statement noted.

“We will not be campaigning unless in exceptional circumstances and for exceptional candidates,” the group added, in particular candidates who have been outspoken in opposition to antisemitism.

In response to the statement, the youth group Labour Students tweeted, “Complete solidarity with @JewishLabour. The horrific racism faced by Jewish people in our party is absolutely unacceptable & hasn’t been dealt with anywhere near well enough.”

“We’ll only be campaigning for candidates who’ve been unwavering in their support to the Jewish community,” the group declared

At the same time, a prominent UK Reform rabbi, Jonathan Romain, sent an open letter to his congregants, asking them to “put aside all other considerations and vote for whichever party is most likely to defeat Labour.”

“I should stress that the problem is not the Labour Party itself, which has a long record of fighting discrimination and prejudice, but the problem is Jeremy Corbyn,” he said. “Corbyn-led Labour has at best let antisemitism arise within its ranks, or at worst has encouraged it.”

“This has never happened under any previous Labour leader,” Romain said, “so the finger of responsibility really does seem to point to Jeremy Corbyn.”

“I am therefore suggesting we should each put aside all other considerations and vote for whichever party is most likely to defeat Labour in whatever constituency we are in — even if we would never normally vote for that party,” the rabbi stated.

“If you too think that a Corbyn-led government would pose a danger to Jewish life as we know it, whether it be utterances that cause Jews to feel victimized, less secure, and no longer at ease … or maybe even legislation that restricts Jewish life or relations with Israel in some way, then you may wish to vote to ensure Labour does not gain your local seat,” he concluded.

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