Hundreds gather for protest accusing Jeremy Corbyn of siding with anti-Semites
The latest row was triggered by a Facebook comment by Jeremy Corbyn from 2012.
Labour politicians joined hundreds of protesters outside Parliament after Jewish community leaders accused Jeremy Corbyn of siding with anti-Semites “again and again”.
The Labour leader faced calls to resign from those gathered at the demo, organised by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council.
Mr Corbyn has written to both organisations, apologising for the “pain and hurt” caused by instances of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.
Jonathan Goldstein, chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council said: “Anti-Semitism has no place whatsoever in a mainstream political party”, to which the crowd replied “Hear, hear”.
Addressing those gathered on Parliament Square, Westminster, he said: “It’s a scourge on our society, it must be rooted out.
“So we are here to say to Jeremy Corbyn: ‘Enough is enough. The time for talking is over, the time for words is over, and the time for action has begun.
“Enough is Enough.”
Labour MPs John Mann, Chuka Umunna, Wes Streeting, Luciana Berger, Stella Creasy, Liz Kendall and John Woodcock were among those attending the Monday evening protest.
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid was also present, the crowd was told.
The politicians left just before 6pm to deliver an open letter from the organisations to the parliamentary Labour Party meeting, which was due to begin.
In the letter, Jewish leaders took aim at Mr Corbyn personally, saying he is “repeatedly found alongside people with blatantly anti-Semitic views” but “claims never to hear or read them”.
The latest row was triggered by a Facebook comment from 2012 when Mr Corbyn offered a show of support for the painter of a mural at the centre of an anti-Semitism row whose controversial street art was about to painted over.
Luciana Berger, Labour Co-op MP for Liverpool Wavertree and parliamentary chair of Jewish Labour Movement, said it pained her to be at the protest.
She said anti-Semitism within the party had become more “conspicuous”, “commonplace” and “corrosive” than it was previously.
Wes Streeting, MP for Ilford North, took the opportunity to praise his “extraordinarily brave and courageous Jewish colleagues”.
He vowed that together they would work with every “ounce of strength” to “drain the cesspit of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party”.
He added: “We know what needs to be done, we don’t need any more mealy mouthed statements from the leader of the Labour Party.”
Protesters called out for Mr Corbyn to resign as he was encouraged to “finally, finally take some responsibility” by Jonathan Arkush, from the Board of Deputies of British Jews.
Ahead of the speeches, the main group of protesters chanted “Shame on you” at pro-Corbyn supporters gathered underneath the statue of Winston Churchill.
One placard held by the group read “Jews for Jez”, while in the main crowd a placard reading: “For the many not the Jew” above a drawing of Mr Corbyn could be seen.
A supporter of Mr Corbyn, Abe Hayeem, from Jewish Voice for Labour, said he was protesting against the “orchestrated campaign” against the Labour leader.
Mr Hayeem, from north London, said leading Jewish groups and the Jewish establishment “continually try to brand Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party as anti-Semitic, and they ferret around on Facebook for obscure comments that were made years ago, and nothing to do with anti-Semitism”.
Tony Jacobs, a heating engineer from north-west London, said he wanted Mr Corbyn to make it clear that anti-Semitism was not acceptable.
The 57-year-old said: “I think broadly speaking we’re just asking Jeremy Corbyn to make a stand against anti-Semitism, because he seems to obfuscate, and distract, and divert but he doesn’t actually seem to want to be seen as taking a true stand against anti-Semitism.”