Rabbis launch their own attack on ‘bigot’ Willsman
ONE OF Jeremy Corbyn’s closest allies on Labour’s ruling body is a “bigot” with “utter disdain for the Jewish community”, according to the rabbis whose allegations of antisemitism in the party he dismissed.
In a recording released by the JC on Monday, Pete Willsman says he has never seen antisemitism in Labour, blaming Jewish “Trump fanatics” for inventing the issue and challenging the 68 rabbis who wrote a joint open letter to the party alleging “severe and widespread” antisemitism in the party to provide evidence.
Amid huge outrage, Mr Willsman was forced to say sorry but his apology did not address the rabbis.
Rabbi Sylvia Rothschild said: “As a signatory to the letter I would like a real apology from Mr Willsman for what he said, I would like an apology from the leadership that tried to avoid investigation of the incident, I would like him to be suspended and for due process to take place, and I would like the Labour party — and Corbyn in particular - to spend time and resources to remind its members publicly that this ‘belief’ and this narrative is not only untrue, it is deeply damaging not only to them but to the society they profess to care about.”
Another signatory, Rabbi David Mitchell of West London Synagogue, wrote on Facebook: “How can Willsman dismiss us 68 Rabbis as Trump supporters AND how can Corbyn sit there and say nothing?”
The letter from the rabbis, which included UK heads of Reform, Masorti and Liberal Judaism, had urged Labour’s NEC to adopt the full International Holocaust Remembrance Association definition of Jewhate, instead of its own which omits key examples of how criticising Israel can be antisemitic. Rabbi Avrohom Pinter, a former Labour councillor and charedi rabbi, said: “I have personally experienced some very unpleasant issues within my local Labour party… I was accused of being in the pay of the Israeli embassy. I have an affection for Israel, but in no way could you describe me as a Zionist.”