‘Real problem’ of anti-Semitism in UK Labour party

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Opposition Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn poses at a polling station after casting his vote in local elections in London on May 3, 2018.
Voters in England went to the polls Thursday to choose local councillors in the first electoral test for Prime Minister Theresa May since she lost her parliamentary majority last year. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS

Britain’s opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn conceded in a newspaper article Saturday that his party had a “real problem” with anti-Semitism as the issue continues to dog the veteran leftist.

“I do acknowledge there is a real problem that Labour is working to overcome,” he wrote in a guest column in the Guardian.

“And I accept that if any part of our national community feels threatened, anxious or vulnerable, not only must that be taken at face value but we must all ensure that those fears are put to rest,” he added.

Corbyn, who has accused of being too soft on members of his party who have made anti-Semitic comments, vowed to root out the problem.

“People who dish out anti-Semitic poison need to understand: you do not do it in my name,” he wrote.

“You are not my supporters and have no place in our movement.”

The issue has dogged Corbyn since he took over as Labour leader in 2015, and resurfaced earlier this week when the party refused to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.

Three of the country’s leading Jewish newspaper joined forces in protest, proclaiming “united we stand” on their front pages.

Corbyn earlier said that there had been 300 internal party referrals for anti-Semitism since 2015, around half of which led to expulsions or resignations.

However, he said that some of the accusations were “overheated rhetoric” and that he would not accept that a Labour government would represent “any kind of threat” to Jews in Britain.

Jewish groups reacted with scepticism to Corbyn’s comments, saying they no longer had any confidence in the Labour leader.

“Today, other than another article bemoaning a situation of the party’s own making, nothing has changed,” said a spokesman for the Jewish Labour Movement.

“There is no trust left. We find ourselves asking once again for action, not words.”