By Ceren Sagir
JEWISH groups hit back at Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis today after he called on people to “vote with a conscience” for the Conservatives.
The rabbi claimed “the overwhelming majority of British Jews are gripped by anxiety” at the prospect of a Labour victory in the forthcoming general election.
Jewish Voice for Labour’s Mike Cushman told the Star that it was no coincidence that Mr Mirvis’s statement came on the eve of Labour launching its race and faith manifesto, which the party’s leader Jeremy Corbyn would use “as an opportunity to build bridges to the Jewish community.”
Mr Cushman said: “Mirvis has not only refused to cross bridges but has also burnt them down. It seems he does not want the Labour Party to succeed in reassuring British Jews.
“What we are upset about is that these grossly exaggerated allegations that Labour anti-semitism has reduced the quality of life and personal security of Jews, that we are living through a moral panic, means that people are disposed to take the worst possible interpretation of a statement rather than seeing it in the round.
“We do not underestimate the real pain people are experiencing; we contest the false narrative that inflicts that pain.
“Corbyn’s long record of campaigning against anti-semitism and of promoting Jewish communal interests is being airbrushed from history.”
Mr Cushman said that since people have been “expelled unjustly from Britain” in the Windrush scandal and “driven to an early grave” in the Grenfell fire, “how ‘complicit’ … would a leader of Her Majesty’s government have to be in order to be considered unfit for high office?”
The issue, he said, was that ”Jews, like non-Jews, have need of schools, hospitals and homes” but they risk losing the opportunity to benefit from “Labour’s transformative manifesto” through “this fear campaign.”
Labour peer Alf Dubs, a child refugee campaigner who escaped nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia in the 1930s, told the BBC that Mr Mirvis’s comments were “going a bit too far.”
David Rosenberg of the Jewish Socialists’ Group called the rabbi’s intervention in the general election “shameful” and pointed out that he “does not speak for all UK Jews.”
Mr Mirvis is an open supporter of Prime Minister Boris Johnson and has previously tweeted a photo of the two of them to congratulate him on his Tory leadership win.
He is also an uncritical supporter of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the violent oppression of the Palestinian people, having once claimed that Israel has “no choice but to use force in Gaza.”
Labour has promised to end arms sales to Israel and to recognise Palestine as a state.
Mr Corbyn stressed today that anti-Jewish racism was “vile and wrong” and that his party had a “rapid and effective system” for dealing with complaints.
Published at morningstaronline.co.uk