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Jewish Labour members back under-fire Corbyn

Jewish members of Islington Labour Party dismiss accusations of antisemitism, and accuse the media of ‘unbalanced’ reporting ahead of the local elections

06 April, 2018

Jeremy Corbyn with Rabbi Mendy Korer. Picture: Jeremy Freedman

EMINENT Jewish members of Islington Labour Party have dismissed accusations of antisemitism against MP Jeremy Corbyn in a letter this week to the Tribune.

They maintain that the Labour leader is a “strong believer” in human rights and values minority groups.

And they accuse the media of “unbalanced” reporting ahead of the local elections, partly arising from his “legitimate criticism of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians”. Among the signatories are leading medical practitioners and academics, including Professor John S Yudkin and feminists Lynne Segal and Professor Mica Nava.

A senior Islington rabbi – Rabbi Mendy Korer – has also told the Tribune that there has “developed over the years a strong relationship with our local dignitaries and the council, as demonstrated this weekend by us celebrating the communal Passover seder” at the Town Hall.

Mr Corbyn has often visited Jewish festivities, including the Chanukah celebration last December.

Support for the Islington North MP has come from George Durack, chairman of Islington Pensioners Forum, who argues that the “attacks” from the media are “part of a campaign to undermine growing support for him” in Britain.

Shirley Franklin, who helped lead the campaign to save the Whittington Hospital, says in another letter to the Tribune that she has known Mr Corbyn since the 1970s and that he has always opposed any form of discrimination.

She says that as a Jew she knows he has “always played an active and supportive role in the local Jewish population” and describes him as a “brave MP” leading his party to a “world of peace, equality and justice”.

TRIBUNE COMMENT: Corbyn, a leader under siege

RARELY has there been such a stream of trenchant criticism by the mainstream media against the leader of a political party as there is against Jeremy Corbyn, MP for Islington North.

Comparisons can be made with the media’s treatment of the last radical Labour leader, Michael Foot, in the 1980s.

But it shades into relative insignificance set against the ferocity of the headlines and comparative TV coverage.

It turns on alleged antisemitism in the Labour Party though – quite rightly – not against Mr Corbyn personally. It also suggests he has been too cautious over the Skripal poisoning case. Here, events in recent days may yet prove he has adopted a more statesmanlike role than the more adventurous foreign secretary, Boris Johnson.

But there is no relief over the antisemitism accusation.

Those who have known Mr Corbyn are perplexed that he can be accused of being neutral towards antisemitism. As a local MP he has always demonstrated the opposite.

He has always shown support for human rights and minorities in the borough.

Letters in the Tribune this week underline this point.

Critics have confounded his concerns – shared by many people across the political spectrum – over the treatment of Palestinians by Israelis with a prejudice against Jews. Mr Corbyn has clearly denied this.

However, antisemitism exists at different levels, from bigotry to hatred. It is to be found in society as a whole and in all political parties, and needs to be challenged.

Jon Lansman, founder of the Labour Party’s campaigning body, Momentum, propounded this approach this week.

Mr Corbyn, in a sense, is under siege. This benefits his opponents in government who are thinking long-term of the next general election in 2022. They hope today’s mood music will persist.

But, so far, Jeremy Corbyn shows no sign of cracking.

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