ITDC INDIA EPRESS/ ITDC NEWS In an unprecedented intervention ahead of next month's elecion, Britain's most senior rabbi on Tuesday suggested Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's handling of anti-Semitism allegations made him "unfit for high office". Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said "a new poison" had taken hold of the party, which had been "sanctioned from the very top" and left British Jews justifiably "gripped by anxiety" before the December 12 polls.
In a scathing comment piece in The Times, Mirvis described Corbyn's claim to have dealt forcefully with all accusations of anti-Semitism as "mendacious fiction" and that he was responsible for "a failure of leadership".
This claim was backed up by Anil Bhanot, the Hindu Council's director for interfaith relations. He said, as Daily Mail reported, "It is a sad state of affairs that a major political party in our country which used to be a progressive socialist voice has veered towards what is almost a fascist ideology. The Labour has increasingly become anti-Semitic and anti-Hindu."
Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, the highest ranking Anglican cleric, said the intervention by Mirvis "ought to alert us to the deep sense of insecurity and fear felt by many British Jews. "The chief rabbi's statement provides all of us with the opportunity to ensure our words and actions properly reflect our commitments to mutual flourishing and inclusion, for the common good," he added.
Last week, Welby and his deputy, Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, warned candidates standing for election to reject hate speech during the campaign. The Muslim Council of Britain said it also supported Mirvis speaking out but noted the ruling Conservatives had also failed to deal with allegations of Islamaphobia in its ranks. "This an issue that is particularly acute in the Conservative Party who have approached Islamophobia with denial, dismissal and deceit," it added.
The anti-Semitism controversy came to a head within Labour in February this year, when nine MPs quit the party over the leadership's handling of the issue. Labour has been dogged by allegations about widespread anti-Semitism among members since Corbyn—a lifelong supporter of Palestinian causes—took over as leader in 2015.