Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said today that the Labour party has a “severe” problem with anti-Semitism, condemning the “poisonous invective” and “politics of distortion” from party members and leading officials, in an op-ed for the Telegraph amid the anti-Semitism crisis that has engulfed the party.
In the Telegraph article, the Chief Rabbi warned that “there must be no place for anti-Semitism in our politics” and called on Jeremy Corbyn to take “decisive action” following days of disturbing revelations about prominent Labour members.
The Chief Rabbi writes: “It is astonishing to see figures on the hard Left of the British political spectrum presuming to define the relationship between Judaism and Zionism despite themselves being neither Jews nor Zionists. The likes of Ken Livingstone and Malia Boattia claim that Zionism is separate from Judaism as a faith; that it is purely political; that it is expansionist, colonialist and imperialist. It is unclear why these people feel qualified to provide such an analysis of one of the axioms of Jewish belief. But let me be very clear. Their claims are a fiction. They are a wilful distortion of a noble and integral part of Judaism. Zionism is a belief in the right to Jewish self-determination in a land that has been at the centre of the Jewish world for more than 3,000 years. One can no more separate it from Judaism than separate the City of London from Great Britain”.
He states: “Comments from senior and longstanding members of the party, both Jewish and not, show just how severe the problem has now become”.
Addressing those attempting to redefine Zionism, he said: “Look around you. There are many good people in our society who are no longer prepared quietly to endure your poisonous invective, simply because you used the word ‘Zionist’ or ‘Zio’ instead of the word ‘Jew’. There are many people who are now calling you out and forcing you to answer for your prejudice. There are many people, from all sectors of our society, who are demanding more responsibility, particularly from our politicians, for stamping out racism and anti-Semitism”.
The Chief Rabbi further emphasised: “Zionism is a movement celebrated by people right across the political spectrum, all over the world, and requires no endorsement or otherwise of the particular policies of any Israeli Government at any time. But to those people who have nevertheless sought to redefine Zionism, who vilify and delegitimise it, be under no illusions – you are deeply insulting not only the Jewish community but countless others who instinctively reject the politics of distortion and demonisation”.
Click here to read the Chief Rabbi’s article.
The article follows a week of shocking revelations in the Labour Party, with up to 50 Party members suspended for making anti-Semitic remarks.