Jeremy Corbyn has said his “door would be open” to the Jewish community if elected in an apparent response to comments from the UK’s chief rabbi that antisemitism has “taken root” in the Labour Party.
In a stunning statement, Ephraim Mirvis yesterday said Corbyn was not fit to be Prime Minister and accused the Labour leader of being “complicit in prejudice”.
The chief rabbi added that “the overwhelming majority of British Jews are gripped by anxiety” when faced with the prospect of a Labour government.
Corbyn spoke today at the launch of Labour’s race and faith manifesto, saying “antisemitism is vile” and “an evil in our society”.
He did not address Mirvis’ comments directly, but he did reference the Chief Rabbi.
“In government, our door will be open to all faith leaders to come and talk to us, and make representations on behalf of their communities,” he said.
“Those from the Muslim Council of Britain will be very welcome.
“The chief rabbi and all other representatives from the Jewish community would be very welcome.”
Mirvis’ intervention in the election comes in the midst of an Equality and Human Rights Commission investigation into whether Labour is institutionally antisemitic.
A group of 11 Labour MPs left the party earlier this year partly due to the party’s handling of antisemitism allegations.
Jewish MP Luciana Berger was among the group and cited repeated antisemitic abuse from Labour members as one reason for leaving the party.
Corbyn has been heavily criticised for calling terrorist-designated political parties Hamas and Hezbollah as friends of his and for defending an antisemitic mural in 2012.
A poll done by the Jewish Chornicle newspaper showed 87 per cent of British Jews thought Corbyn was an antisemite.
Corbyn has repeatedly said that he abhors any form of anti-Jewish racism.
His supporters have consistently said he has been a lifelong anti-racism campaigner.
However, the chief rabbi said claims by the Labour leadership that they would “tackle the scourge of anti-Jewish racism” were a “mendacious fiction”.
Writing in the Times, he said: “How complicit in prejudice would a leader of Her Majesty’s opposition have to be in order to be considered unfit for high office?
“Would associations with those who have openly incited hatred against Jews be enough?
“Would support for a racist mural, depicting powerful hook-nosed Jews supposedly getting rich at the expense of the weak and downtrodden be enough?”