Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters are organising a rally to counter the protest against the party leader’s apparent toleration of anti-Semitism.
The original protest, organised by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council, is scheduled to begin outside parliament at 5:30pm today.
However, the Jewish Voice for Labour is organising a rally from 5pm “to oppose the attack on Jeremy Corbyn”, claiming it is “cynical selective outrage” inspired by the fact the “Tory current chief executive is a former chair of the Jewish Leadership Council”.
It has been tweeted about by Labour Left.
The anti-Semitism protest, which several Labour MPs are planning to support, was organised to coincide with an open letter published this morning telling Corbyn the community has “had enough of hearing that Jeremy Corbyn “opposes anti-Semitism”, whilst the mainstream majority of British Jews, and their concerns, are ignored by him and those he leads”.
The letter acknowledges that “Corbyn did not invent this form of politics, but he has had a lifetime within it, and now personifies its problems and dangers”.
It comes after a major row erupted on Friday afternoon, when MP Luciana Berger drew attention to a 2012 Facebook post in which Corbyn defended the existence of an anti-Semitic mural.
I asked the Leader’s Office for an explanation about this Facebook post first thing this morning. I’m still waiting for a response. pic.twitter.com/DL8ynBtES4— Luciana Berger (@lucianaberger) March 23, 2018
In a statement, Corbyn said he had intended to make a “general comment” about the removal of public art on the grounds of freedom of speech.
He added: “I sincerely regret that I did not look more closely at the image I was commenting on, the contents of which are deeply disturbing and anti-Semitic.
“I am opposed to the production of anti-Semitic material of any kind, and the defence of free speech cannot be used as a justification for the promotion of anti-Semitism in any form.”
But the open letter tackled the issue of the mural, saying: “He is repeatedly found alongside people with blatantly anti-Semitic views, but claims never to hear or read them.
“Again and again, Jeremy Corbyn has sided with anti-Semites rather than Jews. At best, this derives from the far left’s obsessive hatred of Zionism, Zionists and Israel. At worst, it suggests a conspiratorial worldview in which mainstream Jewish communities are believed to be a hostile entity, a class enemy.”
It argues that Corbyn’s insistence that he is against all forms of racism is not good enough because “what distinguishes anti-Semitism from other forms of racism is the power that Jews are alleged to hold, and how they are charged with conspiring together against what is good”.
The letter concludes “Rightly or wrongly, those who push this offensive material regard Jeremy Corbyn as their figurehead… Jeremy Corbyn is the only person with the standing to demand that all of this stops. Enough is enough.”
Several Labour MPs have backed the letter and are planning to join today’s protest.
John Mann told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire Show that if Corbyn did not “sort this problem out” he would “destroy the Labour party”.
As a non Jew I am proud to stand with the Jewish Community #EnoughisEnough. Words of understanding or generalised apologies are not enough. Jeremy Corbyn must personally confront this issue and take action to answer the justifiable concerns of our British Jewish Community. https://t.co/hfKIrwqgjU— Mike Gapes (@MikeGapes) March 25, 2018
Sending me abuse or threatening me with deselection doesn’t intimidate me. It only strengthens my resolve. I agree with every word of this unprecedented statement from @BoardofDeputies @JLC_uk. If that’s your response to it, you’re part of the problem and don’t belong in Labour.— Wes Streeting MP (@wesstreeting) March 25, 2018
A truly terrible day when @BoardofDeputies & @JLC_uk feel the need to write such a letter. No one in @UKLabour should try & minimise or downplay this. I will be showing my solidarity in Parliament Square tomorrow. https://t.co/ynDw8GWhAY— Liz Kendall (@leicesterliz) March 25, 2018
That UK Jewish community have felt need to speak out so strongly should shake every Labour member. Now its to each of us and all of us not to dismiss or minimise, but say #enoughisenough and act from grassroots to the top to ensure labour lives up to our egalitarian principles. https://t.co/PaB15uYroN— stellacreasy (@stellacreasy) March 25, 2018
Separately, another group – the Campaign Against Antisemitism – has submitted a formal complaint against Corbyn to the Labour party’s newly elected general secretary Jennie Formby.
Joseph D. Glassman, head of the CAA’s political and government investigations, said: “We accuse the Labour Party, its MPs and institutions, of complicity with and promotion of anti-Semitic racism… The Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn is now a racist party and to be silent now is to condone. We call on all Labour MPs and members to act and support our disciplinary complaint against Jeremy Corbyn. This is the point of no return: future generations are watching.”
The group is organising a day of protest – on 8 April – to “take a national stand against anti-Semitism”.
Corbyn said: “We are campaigning to increase support and confidence in Labour among Jewish people in the UK. I know that to do so, we must demonstrate our total commitment to excising pockets of anti-Semitism that exist in and around our party.
“I will be meeting representatives from the Jewish community over the coming days, weeks and months to rebuild that confidence in Labour as a party which gives effective voice to Jewish concerns and is implacably opposed to anti-Semitism in all its forms. Labour will work to unite communities to achieve social justice in our society.”