Corbyn sorry for ‘hurt’ as party publishes toolkit to identify anti-Semitism
Jeremy Corbyn has apologised for the “hurt” caused to Jewish people in Labour as his party published education materials to help members and supporters understand anti-Semitism.
The leader of the Opposition admitted the party has a “real problem” with anti-Jewish racism, and said it had been too slow in processing disciplinary cases.
On Sunday, Labour provided members with “basic tools” to identify and call out anti-Semitic stereotypes and conspiracy theories in a bid to defeat the problem.
The materials – published on the party’s website – include guidance on how to avoid anti-Semitism when criticising the Israeli state, and explanations of terms such as Zionism.
In an introductory video message on the page, Mr Corbyn said Jewish people have been at the heart of the Labour Party and that “no-one should dismiss the concerns they’ve expressed about what has been happening in the party”.
“Driving anti-Semitism out of the party for good and working with the Jewish community to rebuild trust are vital priorities,” he said.
“I’m sorry for the hurt that has been caused to many Jewish people. We have been too slow in processing disciplinary cases of mostly online anti-Semitic abuse by party members. We’re acting to speed this process up.
“People who hold anti-Semitic views have no place in the Labour Party. They may be few – the number of cases over the past three years represents less than 0.1% of Labour’s membership of more than half a million – but one is too many.
“Our party must never be a home for such people and never will be. People who use anti-Semitic poison need to understand you do not do it in my name or the name of my party. You are not our supporters.
“And anyone who denies that this has surfaced in our party is clearly actually wrong and contributing to the problem.”
Mr Corbyn said any government he leads will “take whatever measures are necessary to support and guarantee the security of all Jewish communities and their culture”.
“I acknowledge there is a real problem of anti-Semitism that Labour is working to overcome. And if any part of our national community feels threatened we must all ensure that these fears are put to rest.
“I want Jewish people to feel at home in the Labour Party and be able to play their full part in our campaigning work to take our country forward.
“I will continue working with the whole Jewish community to achieve this. It’s my responsibility to root out anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.”
His comments come ahead of a challenging week for the leadership in which the shadow cabinet will meet to discuss anti-Semitism before Mr Corbyn faces MPs at a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party.
Also on Monday, Labour peers are due to consider a motion of no confidence in Mr Corbyn – with a ballot to be held on Tuesday or Wednesday if it is passed.
A Labour Party spokeswoman said: “The Labour Party has developed political education materials to deepen understanding of anti-Semitism, which is rising in our society and around the world.
“Today we are providing members with some basic tools to identify and call out anti-Semitic stereotypes and conspiracy theories, and more education materials on anti-Semitism and other forms of racism and bigotry will follow.”
It comes after Labour’s main Jewish group wrote to every member of the shadow cabinet urging them to show “real resolve” to end what it claims is institutional racism against Jews in the party.
The Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) said the Opposition were “sorely in need of real leadership on anti-Semitism”, telling the frontbench: “This is your chance to lead.”
Labour has been rocked by a Panorama programme which claimed that senior figures, including Mr Corbyn’s communications chief Seumas Milne and general secretary Jennie Formby, had interfered in anti-Semitism investigations.
The party has denied the claims and written a complaint to the BBC.