January 11, 2020

U.K. Jews Say Rift With Corbyn’s Labour Will Take Decade to Heal
(Bloomberg) -- Antisemitism became so rife in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party it will take at least 10 years to repair the “destroyed” relationship with the U.K.’s Jewish community, a key representative group warned.“I don’t think you can underestimate the impact of the culture that exists in the Labour Party at the moment,” Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said in an interview. “There has been a lot of relief that they didn’t win the election.”The stark message comes as the main U.K. opposition party begins the process to replace Corbyn, who announced he would step down after the landslide election defeat to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives on Dec. 12. Labour has been dogged by accusations of antisemitism since Corbyn became leader in 2015, and his election campaign was dramatically undermined when Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis questioned whether he was fit to run the country.“The relationship between Labour and the Jewish community, once rock solid, has been all but destroyed,” the Board of Deputies said in a statement. “Rebuilding will take more than mild expressions of regret.”The group, made up of elected representatives from almost 300 synagogues and local Jewish organizations nationwide, published a list of 10 pledges it wants the next leader to make. They include using an independent body for the party’s disciplinary process and ensuring anyone suspended or expelled from Labour over antisemitism is deprived of a platform for their views.‘Resolve’The pledges “give Labour a clear route to navigate its way from the anti-Jewish racism which has blighted the party,” said van der Zyl, laying the blame for the problem squarely with Corbyn. “It’s going to require a huge amount of resolve from the leadership.”Several candidates for the leadership have expressed the need to address discrimination against Jewish people in the party, which is currently under investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.Current front-runner Keir Starmer, Labour’s Brexit spokesman, listed antisemitism as one of the main reasons the party lost the election. “Cumulatively, we lost the public’s trust in the Labour Party as a force for good and a force for change,” he told the BBC.Another candidate, Jess Phillips -- a member of the Labour Friends of Israel parliamentary group -- is a strong critic of Corbyn and has slammed his “woeful response” to the antisemitism crisis.The deadline for nominations in the Labour leadership contest is on Monday, with the winner due to be announced on April 4.“I hope that we can see change,” said van der Zyl. “Many people historically had a very deep connection with Labour, including my own family. But many people are now completely disenfranchised, and have got no political home.”To contact the reporter on this story: Olivia Konotey-Ahulu in London at okonoteyahul@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tim Ross at tross54@bloomberg.net, Stuart Biggs, Thomas PennyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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