British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis came out in The Telegraph on Tuesday with a surprisingly hard-hitting, sharply critical op-ed taking up the gauntlet tossed at the Jewish world by dozens of members of the UK Labour Party.
The chief rabbi began by stating pointedly that claims of figures on the hard Left of the British political spectrum that Zionism is separate from Judaism, “are a fiction. They are a willful distortion of a noble and integral part of Judaism.
“Zionism is a belief in the right to Jewish self-determination in a land that has been at the center of the Jewish world for more than 3,000 years. One can no more separate it from Judaism than separate the City of London from Great Britain.”
“Comments from senior and long-standing members of the Labour Party, both Jewish and not, show just how severe the problem has now become,” the chief rabbi wrote.
“In recent days, we have heard anti-Semitism in the Labour Party described variously as “a smear” and as “mood music” being manipulated by political opponents of [Labour leader] Jeremy Corbyn. There has been nothing more disheartening in this story than the suggestion that this is more about politics than about substance,” he continued.
“If this inquiry turns out to be no more than a sticking plaster, designed to placate and diffuse until after the elections this week, the problem will surely get worse and not better,” he warned.
“Jeremy Corbyn has stated that his party “will not tolerate anti-Semitism in any form,” and I very much hope that this inquiry will deliver on that pledge and be followed by decisive action. All political parties share in the responsibility to rid our society of anti-Semitism but we cannot achieve that objective with political posturing or empty promises of action never to be fulfilled.”
Corbyn, Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister David Cameron, and former London mayor and Labour Party member Ken Livingstone are set to give evidence to an inquiry by the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee into UK anti-Semitism, according to The Guardian newspaper.
Labour itself launched an independent probe into allegations of racism and anti-Semitism within its own party as well.
But as The Telegraph pointed out in a piece on Tuesday, Corbyn appointed a non-Jew – Shami Chakrabarti, former director of the Liberty human rights campaign group – to investigate the allegations of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party.
“Anti-Semitism is defined as prejudice or discrimination against Jews (italics original). By excluding a lead Jewish voice, well isn’t the Labour inquiry doing exactly that?” posited journalist Angela Epstein – a secular Jew.Hana Levi Julian