Jeremy Corbyn said sorry to the Jewish community for Labour’s anti-Semitism problem today as he prepared for showdown talks with community leaders.
The Labour leader admitted there is a ‘clear’ problem inside his party and apologised for the ‘hurt and distress’ caused by the failure to tackle it.
For the first time Mr Corbyn took aim at pro-Palestinian groups for blaming Jews for the actions of the Israeli government.
Mr Corbyn’s new intervention comes after he was urged by a Holocaust survivor to ‘show his leadership’ and root out the ‘vile evil’ of anti-Semitism.
Ahead of tonight’s meeting, Susan Pollack, 87, a survivor of Auschwitz, said ‘kind words are not enough’ and Mr Corbyn must show he is a real leader.
He will hope today’s crunch meeting with the Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council will draw a line under months of vile claims emerging from Labour’s ranks.
Jeremy Corbyn (pictured in Parliament Square today) has faced widespread criticism for effectively turning a blind eye to the abuse spouted by his supporters in his name
Ms Pollack, 87, a survivor of Auschwitz, told the BBC today Mr Corbyn’s ‘kind words are not enough’ and demanded he show he is a real leader.
Describing her message to the Labour leader, Ms Pollack said: ‘My message is clear to say – act. Do something.’
She added: ‘Kind words are not enough. Apologies accomplishes nothing, you have got to act and act as a leader and give an example – that in Britain or anywhere in the world anti-Semitism is a vile, evil kind of behaviour.
‘He has to act and show his leadership and I think that’s the only way he will have respect.’
Ms Pollack was sent to Auschwitz and was later forced on the infamous death march to Bergen-Belsen.
She was liberated by British troops in April 1945 but had lost all her family in the horrors of the Holocaust.
Jewish groups called an extraordinary protest on Parliament Square earlier this month to warn Mr Corbyn ‘enough is enough’.
In the aftermath of the meeting, Mr Corbyn sought face to face talks with mainstream community leaders.
And ahead of the meeting, Mr Corbyn wrote in the Standard: ‘We have not done enough fully to get to grips with the problem, and for that the Jewish community and our own Jewish members deserve an apology.
‘My party and I are sorry for the hurt and distress caused.’
He admitted the party’s internal checks have ‘been simply not fully fit for purpose’ and ‘we did not look closely enough at ourselves’
Susan Pollack (pictured), a survivor of Auschwitz, said ‘kind words are not enough’ and Mr Corbyn must show he is a real leader and root out the ‘vile evil’ of anti-Semitism
What are the anti-Semitic incidents in Labour that have reached a crisis under Corbyn’s watch?
- Jeremy Corbyn defended an artist who painted an anti-Semitic mural in 2012, questioning why the offensive art should be removed
- He was a member of a Facebook group which was awash with anti-Semitic rhetoric, and he has described anti-Semitic groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah as ‘our friends’
- The Labour leader stood by when a speaker disrupted the launch of his party’s anti-Semitism policy by accusing a Jewish MP of colluding with the press
- Labour has still failed to expel former London mayor Ken Livingstone, two years after he claimed Hitler supported Zionism. He has still not apologised
- Delegates at last year’s Labour conference complained of a ‘witch hunt’ against anti-Semitism and heard from a speaker who said it was legitimate to question the Holocaust
- The problem is so rife in the party the Jewish Labour Movement has had to hold training sessions for party members on how not to be anti-Semitic
- Labour members and councillors have shared disgusting messages and images on Facebook describing Jewish people of controlling world capitalism and being to blame for the policies of the Israeli government
- The party is failing to deal with a huge backlog of complaints and has failed to expel people even though they have committed offences such as referring to Jewish people as Yids
- Corbyn ally Len McCluskey, the Unite general secretary, has dismissed anti-Semitism clams as ‘mood music’ spread by Blairites.
- Labour’s new general secretary Jennie Formby was accused of recruiting a party member suspended for saying Hitler was a Zionist god.
Labour has been dogged by accusations of anti-Semitism ever since Mr Corbyn became leader in 2015.
Jewish MPs have told how they have received hate mail, death and rape threats after daring to speak out against the abuse.
Jewish MPs Luciana Berger and Ruth Smeeth read out examples of the shocking barbs they have received from activists in a debate in Parliament last week.
MPs on all sides broke with convention to give the pair standing ovations in the Commons. Some MPs were reduced to tears by their harrowing stories.
Fellow backbencher John Mann revealed his wife had been sent a dead bird through the post, and that she had been threatened with rape.
Party veteran Margaret Hodge said she ‘didn’t feel at home’ and felt a ‘bit of fear’ about anti-Semitism in the party she has been a member for more than 50 years.
Shadow communities secretary Andrew Gwynne today admitted the party has a problem with anti-Semitism.
He told the programme: ‘We have got an issue in the Labour Party … We have got to acknowledge that that problem exists and, for some, that is a challenge.
‘For me, the Labour Party was created to fight injustice, to fight against prejudice, to fight against hatred, and that we are where we are really hurts me, so we have got to act.’
He added: ‘We have to rebuild confidence in the Jewish community.
‘There are lots of Jewish people that share Labour’s values for social justice, that want a progressive government based on fairness, and that they currently don’t find a home in the Labour Party, I think, is troubling.
‘I think it’s my job as shadow communities secretary to try and rebuild some of that trust and it’s Jeremy’s job as the leader of the Labour Party to try and rebuild some of that trust.’
Jewish leaders took the unprecedented step of calling a demonstration outside Parliament last month to protest at Mr Corbyn’s lack of action on the issue.
The ‘enough is enough’ protest saw hundreds descend onto Parliament Square to demand tougher action to tackle the abuse.
Jewish leaders took the unprecedented step of calling a demonstration outside Parliament last month (pictured) to protest at Mr Corbyn’s lack of action on the issue.