Jewish socialists condemn smears against Jeremy Corbyn

By Lamiat Sabin

Jewish socialists condemned two large “unrepresentative” Jewish organisations today for their “flimsy accusations” of anti-semitism against Jeremy Corbyn.

They came to the defence of the Labour leader following revelations that he questioned why a council was painting over a mural by street artist Mear One six years ago. Mear One said it depicted members of the global banking elite Rothschild and Warburg.

An open letter from the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council – which protested in Parliament Square today evening – said they hold Mr Corbyn personally responsible for anti-semitic comments made online and in Labour meetings.

Jewish supporters of Mr Corbyn held a counter-rally to take place at the same time, with the Jewish Socialists’ Group (JSG) pointing out that board president Jonathan Arkush was one of the first to congratulate Donald Trump on his election as US President on behalf of the board.

Mr Arkush also gives “unqualified support” to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who “enjoys good relations with the very far-right political forces in Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic,” the group added in a statement.

JSG spokesman David Rosenberg said: “Any act of anti-semitism from whichever quarter angers me, but I am equally outraged by those who cynically play games with accusations of anti-semitism for party political or any other purposes.

“The Tory Party is desperate. It is on course to do very badly in the local elections and that will speed up the likelihood of a general election.

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“But they have friends they can rely on, like Jonathan Arkush.”

He slams the Tories for having the most appalling record in relation to migrants and asylum-seekers, and for having members that “hob-nob with fascists and Holocaust deniers in the ‘Traditional Britain Group’.”

“Corbyn has enemies on the right of the Labour Party who will latch on to this cynical ploy with glee,” Mr Rosenberg added.

“We should be clear that any single Labour MP who will help the BoD and the JLC with this are acting in the interests of the Tory Party and against the interest of Labour and its 600,000 members.”

The Jewish Voice for Labour group said that it was “appalled” by the actions and statements of the Board and JLC.

“They do not represent us or the great majority of Jews in the party who share Jeremy Corbyn’s vision for social justice and fairness,” it added.

The group Jewish Voice UK tweeted that the media will “smear to the extreme” any Labour leader opposed to right-wing and neoliberal agendas.

It added that the number of insults group members receive from non-Jewish Tory supporters that “talk down to Jews” for backing Labour “shows how toxic this debate is.”

The board and JLC wrote in their open letter: “Again and again, Jeremy Corbyn has sided with anti-semites rather than Jews.

“At best, this derives from the far left’s obsessive hatred of zionism, zionists and Israel.

“At worst, it suggests a conspiratorial worldview in which mainstream Jewish communities are believed to be a hostile entity, a class enemy.”

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Mr Corbyn, in response, has written a letter to the board and the JLC stating that he is “sincerely sorry” for the pain caused by “pockets” of anti-semitism within Labour that he labelled “the socialism of fools.”

He also repeated his offer for an urgent meeting with the board as soon as possible.

A spokesperson for Mr Corbyn said last week that his Facebook comment from 2012 was responding to concerns over the “removal of public art on grounds of freedom of speech” but that, on later inspection of the mural, that it was “right that it was removed.”

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