Labour anti-Semitism ‘outrageous’, Jewish Agency chair tells Corbyn

“The treatment by Labour’s leadership of anti-Semitic incidents within the ranks of the party is properly outrageous,” Herzog said in a letter to Corbyn.

By Joseph Wolkin

Isaac Herzog, chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, sent a letter to British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn on Thursday, condemning the party for a wave of anti-Semitism.

The letter came after the BBC’s Panorama program, an investigative TV show, revealed the rampant anti-Semitism in the Labour party under Corbyn’s leadership.

“One of our main concerns has always been fighting anti-Semitism, and it is precisely this concern, which is the reason of my letter to you,” Herzog said in the correspondence, released to the public by the Jewish Agency. “The revelations made by the BBC Panorama documentary on the expansion of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party under your leadership have caused much distress and dismay.

“The treatment by Labour’s leadership of anti-Semitic incidents within the ranks of the party is properly outrageous, and the leniency and laxness displayed by the party’s institutions towards members who spread anti-Semitic tropes and cast anti-Semitic aspersions is mind-boggling,” he added.

Herzog led Israel’s Labor Party from 2013 until 2018. In the letter, he notes that he was a major critic of the Israeli government during his time in the Knesset. He was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s biggest opponent in the 2015 Israeli election as head of the Zionist Union, which received 24 seats against Likud’s 30.

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“It is racist to attribute a whole ethnic or religious group negative characteristics, which are supposedly innate,” Herzog stated in the letter. “It is anti-Semitic to demonize Israel, and Israelis in general, as inherently evil. It is anti-Semitic to apply double standards to Israel, that is: to hold it to standards which no other nation is held.

“And it is anti-Semitic to delegitimize the Jewish people’s right to a sovereign state of its own.”

While serving in the Knesset, Herzog continued, he invited the British Labour leader to visit Jerusalem and the Yad Vashem Museum. Corbyn never responded to the invitation.

The British Labour Party has created a “moral chasm,” Herzog stated.

“What needs to be done, and urgently, is to determinedly prevent all anti-Semitic, anti-Semitic-compatible and anti-Semitic-enabling expressions within the party lines,” he affirmed. “Whether their background is malevolence or ignorance, no tolerance must be shown to any display, nuanced as it me be, of xenophobia, racism and anti-Semitism. Firm actual must be taken before it’s too late.”