Lord Sacks renews attack on Jeremy Corbyn

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Lord Sacks renews attack on Jeremy Corbyn

Former Chief Rabbi says until Labour leader expresses clear remorse for what he has said, he remains as great a danger as Enoch Powell was.

Rabbi Lord Sacks
Rabbi Lord Sacks

Former chief rabbi Lord Sacks has renewed his attacks on Jeremy Corbyn over claims of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

He told BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show: “Jews have been in Britain since 1656, I know of no other occasion in these 362 years when Jews – the majority of our community – are asking ‘is this country safe to bring up our children’.

“Now, this is very, very worrying.”

Lord Sacks added: “Anyone who uses the term Zionist loosely, without great care, is in danger of engulfing Britain in the kind of flames of hatred that have reappeared throughout Europe, and is massively irresponsible.

“There is danger that Jeremy Corbyn may one day be prime minister, he is the leader of Her Majesty’s opposition, and I’m afraid that until he expresses clear remorse for what he has said and what his party has done to its Jewish sympathisers as well as its Jewish MPs, then he is as great a danger as Enoch Powell was.”

Lord Sacks said Jewish people were thinking about leaving the UK because of the current atmosphere.

He said: “When people hear the kind of language that has been coming out of Labour, that’s been brought to the surface among Jeremy Corbyn’s earlier speeches, they cannot but feel an existential threat.”

The ex-chief rabbi said Mr Corbyn must “repent and recant as quickly as possible so as to regain the trust of the Jewish and general public”.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said comparisons between Mr Corbyn and Enoch Powell were “just wrong”, telling the BBC: “Jeremy has made it absolutely clear we will protect Jewish members of our party from any form of abuse and anti-Semitism.

“I just say to Lord Sacks ‘you’ve got it wrong, come and talk to us’.”

Ahead of a meeting this week of Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee on whether to adopt an internationally recognised definition of anti-Semitism in full, Mr McDonnell said: “I think all sides will be satisfied with the proposals that will be discussed.

“We are going to resolve this matter, and I hope we are going to do it quickly and move on.”

Mr McDonnell said he wanted Frank Field to “come back into the fold” after resigning the Labour whip over the anti-Semitism row.

The shadow chancellor said he believed MPs who quit a party should hold a by-election, but said differences with Mr Field could be resolved.

Tory party chairman Brandon Lewis said: “Labour have completely failed to produce a plan to tackle the anti-Semitic racism within their party.

“Jeremy Corbyn promised a ‘kinder, gentler politics’ but time and time again has failed to deliver on this promise and stand up to people in his party who say things that don’t belong in public life.

“It’s time for Jeremy Corbyn to finally take action, and address the anti-Semitism within his party.”

Referring to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism that Labour’s ruling body is due to consider on Tuesday, NEC member Claudia Webbe told the BBC: “Personally, the IHRA definition, and its examples, I don’t believe fully protects Jewish communities.

“I don’t believe it’s perfect. I don’t believe it’s comprehensive enough.

“I don’t believe that it enables, and provides, the protection for those who need to be able to express their opposition to, say, the Israeli government, and be able to protect the human rights of Palestinian people.”

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