Jewish leaders tell Starmer: Calls for leniency on antisemitism are misplaced

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Jewish leaders tell Starmer: Calls for leniency on antisemitism are misplaced

Community delegation issues statement saying 'those responsible for obstructing and undermining confidence in the new direction set for Labour are part of the problem'

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer appearing on the BBC1 current affairs programme, The Andrew Marr Show.
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer appearing on the BBC1 current affairs programme, The Andrew Marr Show.

Jewish community leaders have urged Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to put tough action on antisemitism over and above calls for party unity.

It follows the first communal-party meeting since the Equality and Human Rights Commission report on the handling of antisemitism allegations during Jeremy Corbyn’s reign found Labour guilty of unlawful discrimination and harassment.

Corbyn was suspended hours after publication for saying the number were “exaggerated”, and in their meeting on Wednesday Jewish leaders told Starmer that he had had “no choice… by diminishing and dismissing the legal findings [Corbyn] brought the Labour Party into disrepute”.

The delegation included Board of Deputies president Marie van der Zyl, JLC chair Jonathan Goldstein, CST chief executive Mark Gardner, and Jewish Labour Movement chair Mike Katz.

Registering their “disgust” at Corbyn’s reaction, they thanked Starmer for his “firm and constructive response” to the report, whose recommendations he accepted in full, with an action plan now legally required by mid-December.

Yet while all the signs were of relations being far warmer than they have been for years, the representatives still pressed for action beyond the EHRC’s technical recommendations, saying: “A crucial element of the way forward is about culture.”

In a joint statement after the meeting, they said: “Those responsible for obstructing and undermining the Jewish community’s confidence in the new, positive direction set for the party are part of the problem and the Labour leadership will need to find a way to put a stop to it.

“Calls for leniency on the basis of party unity are misplaced when the issue at hand is antisemitism. If the party is to show zero tolerance to antisemitism, there can be no unity with antisemites or their enablers.”

They concluded by expressing their willingness to work with Starmer’s team, but said that while “progress has been made, there is still a long way to go”.

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