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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Corbyn labelled an 'anti-semite' by former Chief Rabbi

Just how much trouble Jeremy Corbyn is in with the Jewish community is illustrated today by an article in the Guardian, who report that the former chief rabbi Jonathan Sacks has called Jeremy Corbyn an anti-Semite. he says that the Labour leader’s comment about Zionists at a 2013 conference was the most offensive statement by a senior UK politician since Enoch Powell’s “rivers of blood” speech:

In an interview with the New Statesman, Sacks, who was the UK’s chief rabbi from 1991 to 2013, said Corbyn had “given support to racists, terrorists and dealers of hate who want to kill Jews and remove Israel from the map”.

He said: “Now, within living memory of the Holocaust, and while Jews are being murdered elsewhere in Europe for being Jews, we have an anti-Semite as the leader of the Labour party and Her Majesty’s opposition. That is why Jews feel so threatened by Mr Corbyn and those who support him.”

Sacks condemned Corbyn’s 2013 comments, which resurfaced last week, in which he said that a group of Zionists had “no sense of irony” despite “having lived in this country for a very long time”.

The remarks prompted criticism from a number of MPs. In a subsequent statement, Corbyn said he had used the word Zionist “in the accurate political sense and not as a euphemism for Jewish people”, adding that he was now more careful in how he used the term.

But Sacks told the New Statesman he was aghast at the remarks, making a parallel with Powell’s infamous 1968 speech, in which the then-Conservative shadow cabinet member was roundly condemned for inflammatory rhetoric about immigration.

“The recently disclosed remarks by Jeremy Corbyn are the most offensive statement made by a senior British politician since Enoch Powell’s 1968 ‘rivers of blood’ speech,” he said.

“It was divisive, hateful and like Powell’s speech it undermines the existence of an entire group of British citizens by depicting them as essentially alien. We can only judge Jeremy Corbyn by his words and his actions … When he implies that, however long they have lived here, Jews are not fully British, he is using the language of classic pre-war European antisemitism.

“When challenged with such facts, the evidence for which is before our eyes, first he denies, then he equivocates, then he obfuscates. This is low, dishonest and dangerous. He has legitimised the public expression of hate, and where he leads, others will follow.”

The Labour leader must already be smarting after receiving an endorsement from Nick Griffin, former head of the British National Party, and David Duke, an ex-grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. The Times says that Griffin and Duke issued supportive tweets in response to the video of Corbyn talking about Zionists.

This though is a whole new ball game. As the Guardian points out, Sacks is a particularly well-known figure in Britain’s Jewish community, renowned as an intellectual and communicator. However, they add that though he was chief rabbi for the majority of British Jews from the modern Orthodox tradition, he did not represent the significant minority of British Jews from the progressive Reform movement, and he has previously taken some robust stances in support of Israeli policies.
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