Response to the op-ed by Jeremy Corbyn in the Guardian on Friday

Joint response by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council

Post Sabbath, Jewish organisations can now respond to Jeremy Corbyn’s ill-timed and ill-conceived Guardian article on Labour’s antisemitism problem. Once again Mr Corbyn, of all people, has chosen to lecture Jews on antisemitism.

His Guardian piece repeats much of his previous Evening Standard article, published the day we met him to explain our concerns. 

In that article and in that meeting, on 24 April, Mr Corbyn made numerous empty assurances regarding communications and being a “militant opponent of antisemitism”. 

Sadly, since then, the vilification of our community and its representatives has worsened significantly, both in meetings and throughout Corbynite social media. Whether you call this antisemitic or not, the end result is the same: Jews and those who support them are being purged out of the Party. This is happening from Members of Parliament to local activists. 

Without seeking to rebut every point of Jeremy Corbyn’s article, we note his misleading claims regarding consultation with Jewish groups and how his past behaviour utterly belies what he suddenly now says about Zionism not being racism. His words regarding the Holocaust beg the question as to why he has previously sought to relativise it on so many past occasions. 

Above all, however, Mr Corbyn’s ideological hostility to the IHRA definition of antisemitism epitomises the enduring problem. His article falsely claimed that Labour’s new Code only sought to alter one part of the definition. As can be plainly seen, the Code alters and relegates four parts that say it may be antisemitic to: 1. Accuse Jews of disloyalty, 2. Compare Israel to Nazi Germany, 3. Hold Israel to unique standards and 4. Call a Jewish State racist. It is quite obvious why Jeremy Corbyn and Seumas Milne are so anxious to diminish these parts of the IHRA definition. Furthermore, it is contemptible that Mr Corbyn cites the Home Affairs inquiry into antisemitism, whilst ignoring what it rightly said about him. 

Actions are the only thing that have ever mattered. We heard and read the same words back in April, at the launch of the compromised Chakrabarti Report and before that, when the Baroness Royall’s Report was half-buried. None of the clichés and promises have been met, the hatred and vilification has intensified and the purging is now gathering pace. These are the actions that should matter, not just to Jews, but to all decent people who believe in fundamental liberal democratic principles.