Baroness Neuberger: Jews in the Labour Party should resign over anti-Semitism row

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Baroness Neuberger: Jews in the Labour Party should resign over anti-Semitism row

Crossbench peer and rabbi says the best way of tackling Labour's anti-Semitism problem is to "stop them getting elected" as she urges Jews to quit

Jack Mendel is the former Online Editor at the Jewish News.

Baroness Neuberger (right) with event host Andy Haldane of the Bank of England
Baroness Neuberger (right) with event host Andy Haldane of the Bank of England

Jews in the Labour Party should have resigned in protest of the anti-Semitism row under Jeremy Corbyn, according to a senior British Jewish peer and rabbi.

Baroness Julia Neuberger said this week that the best way to defeat Labour’s anti-Semitism problem is to stop them winning power, and members of the community shouldn’t remain in the party.

Addressing an audience at the Bank of England’s ‘One Bank Flagship Seminar’,  the West London Synagogue rabbi and Crossbench peer, said Lord Mitchell, who resigned from Labour in September 2016 “was absolutely right to do so”, as she urged more to quit en masse.

“Others are saying they’re in there and staying to fight it. I understand that, but at the moment they’re not winning. I think there’s a point where you’re not winning where you have to say, forgive me…” and leave.

She said she hoped that Labour’s anti-Semitism row is “enough of a problem that it’ll stop them getting elected, because that’s the best way of dealing with it.”

“It certainly stopped them [Labour] in some local authorities, being elected in local elections last month”, with numerous Jewish Labour councillors losing their seat in Barnet in particular, as the council was taken by the Tories.

This comes after an incident in March of this year, where Jeremy Corbyn said he regretted not looking more carefully at an allegedly anti-Semitic mural before giving apparent support to the artist responsible for it. Baroness Neuberger said it depicted “caricatures of apparently Jewish capitalists, Jewish bankers.. with hooked noses.. all of that. Essentially grinding the faces of the poor.”

Saying the mural “could have been taken out of Der Stürmer”, a vehemently anti-Semitic publication during the Nazis’ time in power, she reflected on Corbyn’s response, saying: “If you can’t see something wrong with that, you haven’t got a sensitivity to anti-Semitism.”

Turning to Britain’s Jewish community, Baroness Neuberger insisted that there is a future for the community in this country, despite concerns over falling numbers of Jews over the last century and anti-Semitism.

This comes as a new study by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research’s for the Board of Deputies of British Jews revealed that “high fertility among strictly Orthodox Jews is driving a compositional change in the UK Jewish population,” with a 35 percent increase in strictly Orthodox births from 2007-15, and ‘mainstream’ Jewish births estimated to have increased by 19 percent.

She said “the Jewish community is.. essentially diverging. We’re having a growing ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.. But the middle of the road sort standard British Jewish model United Synagogue, is having more trouble. And my lot (Reform Jews), or the disaffected lot are growing.

The peer, who resigned the Liberal Democrat whip in 2011, also spoke about her decision to apply for German citizenship after Brexit, which is available to her due to her mother, who escaped Nazi Germany.

She told the audience, her application hasn’t been straightforward “because I was born before 1953, and German citizenship was still under the ‘Reich Law’, which meant it went through your father not your mother, and my father was born in London, so I wasn’t entitled.”

She said this made the German Ambassador feel “hugely embarrassed” and her “application is going in as a test case, for political reasons.”

Watch the full interview here:

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