UK Jewish Groups Skeptical After Labour’s Corbyn Says ‘Sorry’ for ‘Everything That Has Happened’ Regarding Antisemitism
UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said in an ITV News interview on Tuesday he was “very sorry” for the antisemitism scandals that his party has been beset by in recent years — a statement that was met with skepticism from top British Jewish groups.
Host Philiip Schofield pressed Corbyn five times for an apology, and Corbyn finally capitulated, answering, “Obviously I am very sorry for everything that has happened, but I want to make this clear — I am dealing with it, I have dealt with it.”
Corbyn claimed Labour “does not accept” antisemitism “in any form whatsoever,” but added the caveat that it was not the only party “affected by antisemitism.”
In a response to Corbyn’s words, Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, stated, “When it comes to antisemitism, no other mainstream party in British society has anything close to Labour’s current problem.”
“Thousands of complaints have been made to Labour about cases of antisemitism from members; the 130 open cases often cited ignores many cases in which members were let off with a slap on the wrist for the most egregious antisemitism,” Zyl pointed out.
“Mr. Corbyn has not dealt with it in the past few years, whether he will deal with it now remains to be seen,” she added.
A spokesperson for the UK-based Campaign Against Anti-Semitism (CAA) — which recently released a poll revealing that more than two-thirds of ardent Corbyn supporters held at least one antisemitic view, called his comments “a vague and meaningless distraction from the party’s crisis of institutional antisemitism, which he has done so much to cultivate and nothing to resolve, and for which the party is rightly being investigated.”
A spokesperson for Labour Against Antisemitism (LAAS) said, “Jeremy Corbyn’s grudging apology, when it finally arrived today, was an inadequate response to widespread concerns that the Labour party he is leading is institutionally antisemitic. We wonder how he can claim to be ‘dealing with’ evidence of anti-Jewish racism in his organization while so many of the Labour Party’s candidates have been alleged to have made or promoted antisemitic views and comments. If he cares about discrimination against the British Jewish community, then why were Jews entirely left out of a Labour video about tackling racism?”
“Mr. Corbyn has had four years to deal with this crisis, and the reality is he has failed to do so,” the spokesperson added. “Any apology he offers will be rejected until he implements a zero-tolerance policy on tackling antisemitism, and there is currently zero evidence of him doing that.”
Earlier this year, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission launched a formal probe into Labour, making it only the second British political body to be formerly investigated for racism by the commission.
Over a dozen MPs have quit the party in the past year, citing its antisemitism problem as a reason.
Nearly half of British Jews say they would “seriously consider” leaving their country should Corbyn become prime minister following the Dec. 12 general elections.