Rab­bis launch their own at­tack on ‘bigot’ Wills­man

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS -

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.”


Pete Wills­man

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