Corbyn says it is his ‘heartfelt wish’ for JLM to remain affiliated to party

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Corbyn says it is his ‘heartfelt wish’ for JLM to remain affiliated to party

Message to organisation’s executive, seen by Jewish News, comes just before crunch meetings to decide if the Jewish Labour Movement should sever ties to Labour after 99 years

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (second left) presenting an award to JLM in 2017
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (second left) presenting an award to JLM in 2017

Jeremy Corbyn has told the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) it is his “heartfelt wish” for the organisation to remain affiliated to the party and called for a meeting with the group – an offer that has been rebuffed until further action is taken on antisemitism.

The message addressed to the organisation’s executive, now seen by Jewish News, came a week before crunch meetings in London and Manchester where some JLM members are expected to push for ties to be severed after 99 years.

In his letter, which he signs off with the words ‘solidarity”, Corbyn wrote: “I know that your decision to call an extraordinary meeting to discuss the future of your affiliation to the Labour Party will not have been taken lightly. I deeply regret that this is under consideration.

“The Jewish Labour Movement is a highly valued and important part of our Labour family.

“It is my heartfelt wish that your members will choose to retain the historic relationship that first Poale Zion and latterly the Jewish Labour Movement have had with the Labour Party for almost a century.”

It comes 35 years after Corbyn backer a motion to sever ties with Paole Zion, which rebranded itself as JLM in 2004.

The new group’s mission statement focused on British Jewry. When revelations of the motion emerged in 2015, JLM said it found it hard to believe any Labour politician would back what amounts to a “purge” of the party’s only Jewish affiliate.

Saying he recognised the “hurt and pain” caused to Jews by “antisemitic ideas expressed by some Labour members” and was “wholly committed” to rooting it out, he added: “I know that this commitment must be demonstrated in actions, not just words.

“Progress has been made, but we must go much further to create the zero-tolerance culture that you rightly demand of us.

“I want to reassure you that Jennie Formby, the Shadow Cabinet and I are determined to achieving these aims, and to proving to the Jewish community that we stand with them against bigotry and prejudice.

“To do this, we must work more closely with you as the Party’s only Jewish affiliate organisation and I would welcome an opportunity to meet you to discuss how we may do this.”

A JLM spokesman told Jewish News: “At every stage of crisis in the Leadership’s failure to tackle the culture of antisemitism that has engulfed the Party these past years, the same pattern of warm words and no meaningful action is repeated.

“Having made bold claims about engaging with JLM at the PLP [Parliamentary Labour Party], despite having only sent us an email two minutes before the Leader took to his feet, it now appears that his office were more interested in passing the content of his letter to the press than they were in waiting for our reply.

“The path through this was set a year ago in the wake of the Enough is Enough protests.

“Until they set out how they will meet the six tests set by the Jewish community, and the 19 by JLM, there will be no meetings.”

The Labour leader added he was “saddened” by the resignation of Berger. “The abuse she has received is shocking and appalling, and she has my full solidarity.”

Corbyn added: “The Labour Party and the Jewish community have deep and historic common roots, with the Jewish Labour Movement approaching its centenary of affiliation next year.

“It is my firm belief that the future holds great potential for us to achieve the change needed to create the better, fairer world which we all believe in and so keenly want to realise. I hope we will continue to work towards it together.”

Corbyn’s letter came within hours of Tom Watson’s appeal to MPs to copy him into all complain of antisemitism so is office could keep track of them.

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