US/World News

British Jewish community to meet with Labour Party head

(JTA) – British Jewish community leaders agreed to meet with embattled Labour Party head Jeremy Corbyn to discuss antisemitism in the party ranks. In a letter sent Wednesday, April 4 to Corbyn, Jonathan Arkush, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and Jonathan Goldstein, chair of the Jewish Leadership Council, made clear that, while they agree that Labour’s new General Secretary, Jennie Formby, should take part in any meeting, fighting against antisemitism in the party will require Corbyn, as its head, “to drive the changes required and to ensure that there will be significant, timely and measurable progress on the issues we laid out in our letter of the 28th March.”

In that open letter to the Labour Party Jewish leaders declared that “enough is enough,” and that Corbyn is “repeatedly found alongside people with blatantly antisemitic views.” The party has come under fire for harboring antisemitic members and leaders. British Jews and an inter-parliamentary committee of inquiry have dismissed as unsatisfactory an internal Labour audit that largely cleared the party of antisemitism allegations. Corbyn has vowed to kick out any Labour member caught making racist or anti-Semitic statements. Dozens were expelled but many others accused of these actions were allowed to stay or were readmitted.

Corbyn has been calling for a meeting with Jewish leaders for more than a week, since about 2,000 people gathered outside the houses of Parliament in London to protest antisemitism in the British Labour Party. Corbyn had published a written apology prior to the march. Jewish groups had previously refused a meeting with Corbyn, until he said that he had plans to discuss regarding combatting the antisemitism. Earlier on Wednesday Corbyn had sent a letter to Jewish leaders in which he said that “I place no limitations on the points you would wish to raise and happy for the agenda to cover the issues you’ve already outlined.” He added: “I appreciate and understand the anger you express and reiterate my determination to fight antisemitism within the Labour Party and society at large.”

Among the Jewish leaders’ requests, according to the BBC, are that cases of antisemitism in the Labour Party be resolved on a “fixed timescale;” that Labour members and lawmakers should refrain from sharing a platform with those who have been suspended or expelled from the party for antisemitism; for improved education about anti-semitism, including a “clear list of unacceptable language”; and an independent ombudsman to oversee efforts to tackle anti-semitism in Labour, with updates offered to the Jewish community.

No date or place has been set for the meeting.

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