Corbyn rejects criticism of anti-Semitism code, says it will stay
UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has broken his silence over an anti-Semitism row affecting his party, saying he would not accept changing the party’s new code on anti-Semitism as it would violate the right of many Jews who are critical of Zionism and loath the Israeli regime.
Corbyn wrote in a Friday article for the Guardian that Labour would stick to its code of conduct on anti-Semitism as it respected the rights of non-Zionist Jews.
“[T]here are also many non- or anti-Zionist Jews who should not be branded as anti-Semites simply because they are not part of the Zionist tradition,” Corbyn said in the article, adding that the pressure on the party over the code came from people who want to “restrict criticism of Israel.”
Corby said that it was wrong to brand anti-Zionists as anti-Semites, adding that it was much like the “Zionism is racism” argument that surfaced in the Left in the 1970s.
He said many Jews and non-Jews in Britain were increasingly concerned with actions and policies of the Israeli regime, saying those concerns “should not be a source of dispute”.
“This has been a difficult year in the Middle East, with the killing of many unarmed Palestinian protesters in Gaza, and Israel’s new nation-state law relegating Palestinian citizens of Israel to second-class status,” said Corbyn, known himself as a veteran campaigner for Palestinian rights and a critic of Israel.
The Labour leader admitted that he should have done more to tackle anti-Semitism in his party over the past years, saying he would do his best “root out” any form of racism, including anti-Semitism in Labour.
“Driving anti-Semitism out of the party for good, and rebuilding that trust, are our priorities,” said Corbyn.
Labour no threat to Jews
Pressure has increased on Corbyn and Labour over the party’s new code on anti-Semitism. Critics have urged the party to adopt a multi-national code on the issue, a move Corbyn and allies in Labour say would stifle any criticism of Israel.
The pressure reached a boiling point last week when three Jewish newspapers wrote a joint front-page editorial, calling Corbyn and Labour an existential threat to the Jews in Britain.
Corbyn said in his article that the argument made by the three Jewish newspapers was an “overheated rhetoric”.
“That is the kind of overheated rhetoric that can surface during emotional political debates,” wrote Corbyn.
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