Corbyn urged to protect Labour MPs in antisemitism protest
Britain’s two largest Jewish groups are calling on Jeremy Corbyn to protect MPs who attended a protest against antisemitism in his party, before their meeting with the Labour leader later this month.
Some of the Labour MPs who attended the demonstration three weeks ago faced a backlash from the left of the party. One MP faced a local motion of condemnation, although it was eventually defeated.
Writing in the Observer, Jonathan Goldstein, chair of the Jewish Leadership Council, and Jonathan Arkush, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said that the Labour MPs who attended the protest needed the leader’s support as part of the fight against antisemitism.
“Courageous Labour MPs spoke with great pain, honesty and integrity about the problem,” they write. “We knew, as did most of the crowd, the huge risk that these MPs were taking for being there. It is these MPs and many other councillors and members who are now the most vital opponents of antisemitism.
“Inevitably, the MPs are facing a perverse backlash for opposing antisemitism and for caring about their party. Corbyn’s leadership in defence of them will now be a crucial component of his promised commitment to combating antisemitism.”
The two groups said they acted after a series of allegations of antisemitism by Labour members. The party is facing a backlog of disciplinary cases. The groups have agreed to a meeting with Corbyn on 24 April and said they would use it to ask him to deal with “issues of leadership, of education, ensuring an effective, transparent and just disciplinary process and tackling a culture of ‘victim-blaming’”.
A Labour spokeswoman said: “There is absolutely no place in our party or our movement for antisemitism. Jeremy has asked Jennie Formby, Labour’s new general secretary, to make rooting out antisemitism her number one priority. Jeremy believes people have the right to speak out and … to demonstrate. He will not tolerate abuse of people for their beliefs.”