WE SHOULD be alert to the “deep sense of insecurity and fear felt by many British Jews”, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said, after the Chief Rabbi warned that a “new poison” has taken hold of the Labour Party.
In a strongly worded article in The Times on Tuesday, the Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, wrote: “The Jewish community has watched with incredulity as supporters of the Labour leadership have hounded parliamentarians, members and even staff out of the party for challenging anti-Jewish racism.”
In a statement on social media on Tuesday morning, Archbishop Welby backed the Chief Rabbi, writing that his “statement provides all of us with the opportunity to ensure our words and actions properly reflect our commitments to mutual flourishing and inclusion, for the common good”.
Archbishop Welby argued: “Everyone in our country is entitled to feel safe and secure. They should be able to live in accordance with their beliefs and freely express their culture and faith.
“As a Church, we are very conscious of our own history of antisemitism. None of us can afford to be complacent. Voicing words that commit to a stand against antisemitism requires a corresponding effort in visible action.”
His support of the Chief Rabbi follows the publication of the Church of England’s first authoritative publication on Jewish-Christian relations last week (News, 22 November).
Rabbi Mirvis wrote: “The response of the Labour leadership was utterly inadequate. . .
“The way in which the leadership has dealt with anti-Jewish racism is incompatible with the British values of which we are so proud — of dignity and respect for all people. It has left many decent Labour members both Jewish and non-Jewish, ashamed of what has transpired.”
He argued that the idea that Labour was dealing with anti-Semitism as much as it can is a “mendacious fiction”.
Both Archbishop Welby and Rabbi Mirvis stop short of telling people how to vote. The Chief Rabbi concluded: “It is not my place to tell any person how they should vote. I regret being in this situation at all. I simply pose the question: What will the result of this election say about the moral compass of our country?
“When December 12 arrives, I ask every person to vote with their conscience. Be in no doubt, the very soul of our nation is at stake.”
A Labour spokeswoman said: “Jeremy Corbyn is a lifelong campaigner against anti-Semitism, and has made absolutely clear it has no place in our party and society, and that no one who engages in it does so in his name.
“A Labour Government will guarantee the security of the Jewish community, defend and support the Jewish way of life, and combat rising anti-Semitism in our country and across Europe.”
Lord Dubs, a Labour peer who came to the UK as a child refugee from Czechoslovakia in 1939, told Radio 4’s Today programme that Labour was “moving forward” on anti-Semitism, and British Jews “do not have to fear” a Corbyn-led Government.
A spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain said on Wednesday that the Chief Rabbi had highlighted the “unacceptable presence of anti-semitism in Britain and in politics today”, adding that “not enough is being done” to tackle racism “whether from the left or the right”.
The statement continued: “As a faith community, we commonly are threatened by Islamophobia. This an issue that is particularly acute in the Conservative Party who have approached Islamophobia with denial, dismissal and deceit.”