The Chief Rabbi issued a stark warning last night about the consequences of a Labour election victory.
Making an unprecedented intervention, Ephraim Mirvis said the vast majority of British Jews were ‘gripped by anxiety’ at the idea of Jeremy Corbyn in No 10.
He accused Mr Corbyn of allowing the ‘poison’ of anti-Semitism to take root in Labour and said it could no longer claim to be the party of diversity, equality and anti-racism.
Ephraim Mirvis (pictured) said the vast majority of British Jews were ‘gripped by anxiety’ at the idea of Jeremy Corbyn in No 10
Urging voters to examine their consciences in the polling booth, he said the election result would shine a light on the country’s moral compass.
‘The very soul of our nation is at stake,’ Rabbi Mirvis warned.
The Chief Rabbi took aim at Mr Corbyn for supporting a racist mural and for describing terrorists who endorse the murder of Jews as ‘friends’.
His remarks came as Mr Corbyn prepared to launch his party’s ‘race and faith manifesto’ this morning, which includes a plan to hold an inquiry into far-Right extremism.
It will also propose to teach all schoolchildren about the ‘injustice’ of the British empire.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said it was ‘staggering’ that Labour would ‘lecture people about race and faith’ while the party was under investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission for anti-Semitism.
In his attack, in an article for The Times, the Chief Rabbi wrote: ‘The way in which the leadership of the Labour Party 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
The Chief Rabbi took aim at Mr Corbyn (pictured together) for supporting a racist mural and for describing terrorists who endorse the murder of Jews as ‘friends’
‘It has left many decent Labour members and parliamentarians, both Jewish and non-Jewish, ashamed.
‘What we do know from history is that what starts with the Jews, never ends with the Jews.’
Rabbi Mirvis quoted a claim from the Jewish Labour Movement that 130 cases of anti-Semitism had not been dealt with by party officials.
A Labour spokesman insisted this figure was false, adding: ‘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.’ The storm came as:
- Two polls suggested Labour was closing the gap;
- The Tories stepped up their attacks on Mr Corbyn, branding him ‘The Prime Ditherer’ over Brexit;
- Labour adviser Lord Kerslake suggested Mr Corbyn’s future and a second Scottish vote could be ‘part of conversation’ with opposition parties in the event of a hung parliament;
- Boris Johnson issued a guarantee that he would ‘never allow another chaotic and divisive independence referendum’;
- Tony Blair warned a Labour majority would pose a risk to the UK;
- A Labour candidate was being probed by police over ‘a potential breach of electoral law’;
- Another Labour hopeful was forced to apologise for using the word ‘gassed’ when joking about Israel;
- It emerged that Theresa May would receive £20,000 under Labour’s £58billion promise to compensate three million female pensioners;
- John McDonnell admitted Labour got its sums wrong when it pledged to offer free broadband to every home;
- The Liberal Democrats appeared to abandon their policy of revoking Brexit;
- Mr Johnson revealed he had drawn up plans for a Queen’s speech on December 19 in a bid to press on with Brexit;
- Record-breaking numbers of youngsters registered to vote.
Mr Corbyn has been blamed for Labour’s anti-Semitism problem because he has spent his political life fraternising with the hard Left.
Mr Corbyn prepares to launch his party’s ‘race and faith manifesto’ this morning
On one occasion in Parliament he even greeted representatives of the Islamist terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah as ‘friends’.
In 2012, Mr Corbyn offered his backing online to Los Angeles-based street artist Mear One, whose mural, featuring several known anti-Semitic tropes, was due to be removed after complaints.
Later, he was pictured holding a wreath yards from the graves of terror leaders linked to the 1972 Munich Olympics killings.
Since he became Labour leader in 2015, two female Jewish MPs have been driven out of the party by the anti-Semitic abuse they have faced and one of them even needed a bodyguard at the party conference.
Now Labour is under investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission over its racism problem – only the second party after the BNP to face such a probe.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said it was ‘staggering’ that Labour would ‘lecture people about race and faith’ while the party was under investigation
Two rabbis have already come out to urge voters not to back Mr Corbyn’s party.
But last night’s intervention of the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, at the height of an election campaign, is utterly unprecedented.
The Labour spokesman said the party was taking robust action to root out anti-Semitism, with swift suspensions, processes for rapid expulsions and an education programme for members.
‘Anti-Semitism complaints account for about 0.1 per cent of the Labour Party membership, while polls show anti-Semitism is more prevalent among Conservative than Labour supporters,’ he added. ‘In the past week it’s been revealed Conservative candidates said events in the Holocaust were ‘fabricated’ and called British Jews ‘extremists’.
‘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.’
‘We known from history, what starts with the Jews never ends with the Jews’: Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis’s message in full
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said Labour’s inaction on anti-Semitism has left many ‘ashamed’
The overwhelming majority of British Jews are gripped by anxiety. The question I am most frequently asked is: What will become of Jews and Judaism in Britain if the Labour Party forms the next government?
The Jewish community has… learned the hard way that speaking out means that we will be demonised… and accused of being partisan or acting in bad faith by those who still think of this as an orchestrated political smear. Yet, I ask myself: should the victims of racism be silenced by the fear of yet further vilification?
The way in which the leadership of the Labour Party has dealt with anti-Jewish racism is incompatible with the British values of which we are so proud. It has left many decent Labour members and parliamentarians, both Jewish and non-Jewish, ashamed.
It is a failure to see this as a human problem rather than a political one. It is a failure of leadership. A new poison – sanctioned from the very top – has taken root in the Labour Party.
Many members of the Jewish community can hardly believe this is the same party that they proudly called their political home for more than a century.
How complicit in prejudice would a leader of Her Majesty’s opposition have to be in order to be considered unfit for high office? Would associations with those who have openly incited hatred against Jews be enough? Would describing as ‘friends’ those who endorse and even perpetrate the murder of Jews be enough? It seems not. What we do know from history is that what starts with the Jews, never ends with the Jews.
It is not my place to tell any person how they should vote. I simply pose the following question: What will the result of this election say about the moral compass of our country? I ask every person to vote with their conscience. Be in no doubt – the very soul of our nation is at stake.
Raised under apartheid, he’s seen evils of prejudice
Born in South Africa in 1956, Rabbi Mirvis said growing up under apartheid gave him an early understanding of the dangers of division and inequality.
His father Lionel, also a rabbi, preached against the apartheid system and visited political prisoners held on Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was jailed.
His mother led the country’s only training college for black pre-school teachers.
Since his own appointment as Britain’s Chief Rabbi, he has appealed for greater unity within the Jewish community and between different faiths.
He was the first United Synagogue rabbi to host an address by a Muslim imam, and has addressed meetings at the Church of England synod.
Rabbi Mirvis’s father, also a rabbi, preached against the apartheid system and visited political prisoners held on Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela (pictured) was jailed
He has also welcomed moves to give women a greater role in Orthodox synagogues and said he wanted greater inclusion for gay Jewish people. Rabbi Mirvis took over from his predecessor Lord Sacks in 2013, when he became the 11th Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the UK and the Commonwealth in its 300-year history.
One of his first acts was to tweet good wishes to his football team, Tottenham Hotspur, ahead of a London derby game with north London rivals Arsenal.
He chose not to live in the £10million grace and favour home used by Lord Sacks but moved into a six-bedroom home in Hendon, north London, with his wife Valerie, a social worker.
He was previously rabbi at the Finchley Synagogue in north London and was Ireland’s chief rabbi from 1985 to 1992, after taking on the role when he was just 28.
Rabbi Mirvis took over from his predecessor Lord Sacks (pictured) in 2013, when he became the 11th Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the UK and the Commonwealth
Now 63, he and wife Valerie have four sons and seven grandchildren. Their oldest child, Liora Graham, died in 2011 after a long battle with cancer.
He has long been a vocal critic of anti-Semitism within the Labour. He accused party officials of sending ‘an unprecedented message of contempt to the Jewish community’ last year, over new guidelines for its members on how to deal with racism.
Labour’s national executive committee overrode the concerns of more than 65 senior British rabbis to wave through the new rules on anti-Semitic behaviour in its ranks, and was widely criticised for failing to do enough to tackle the problem.
By Vanessa Allen for the Daily Mail