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Majority of Jews concerned UK is not safe in wake of Labour row – Lord Sacks

The ex-chief rabbi has called on Jeremy Corbyn to ‘repent and recant’.

The majority of Jews are questioning whether Britain is a safe place to bring up their children in the wake of the Labour anti-Semitism controversy, former chief rabbi Lord Sacks has said.

The crossbench peer insisted Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn must “recant and repent” over remarks regarding Zionism which he claimed risked engulfing the UK “in the flames of hatred”.

He told BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show: “Jews have been in Britain since 1656, I know of no other occasion in these 362 years when Jews – the majority of our community – are asking ‘is this country safe to bring up our children’.

“Now, this is very, very worrying.

“Anyone who uses the term Zionist loosely, without great care, is in danger of engulfing Britain in the kind of flames of hatred that have reappeared throughout Europe, and is massively irresponsible.

“There is danger that Jeremy Corbyn may one day be prime minister, he is the leader of Her Majesty’s opposition, and I’m afraid that until he expresses clear remorse for what he has said and what his party has done to its Jewish sympathisers as well as its Jewish MPs, then he is as great a danger as Enoch Powell was.”

Lord Sacks said Jewish people were thinking about leaving the UK because of the current atmosphere.

He said: “When people hear the kind of language that has been coming out of Labour, that’s been brought to the surface among Jeremy Corbyn’s earlier speeches, they cannot but feel an existential threat.”

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said comparisons between Mr Corbyn and Enoch Powell were “just wrong”, telling the BBC: “Jeremy has made it absolutely clear we will protect Jewish members of our party from any form of abuse and anti-Semitism.

“I just say to Lord Sacks ‘you’ve got it wrong, come and talk to us’.”

John McDonnell said he wanted Frank Field to ‘come back into the fold’ after resigning the Labour whip over the anti-Semitism row (Steve Parsons/PA)

Ahead of a meeting this week of Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee on whether to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism in full, Mr McDonnell said: “I think all sides will be satisfied with the proposals that will be discussed.

“I think acceptance overall, and I think also the commitment to freedom of speech, and yes, a recognition of the rights of Palestinians.

“From what I’ve heard, it will be resolved, and there will be a balance about acceptance, as people want, but also, exactly about what others have said as well – Lord Sacks himself – that freedom of speech is important as well.

“The ability to criticise policies that you disagree with, but you do it in terms which are acceptable.”

Mr McDonnell said he wanted Frank Field to “come back into the fold” after resigning the Labour whip over the anti-Semitism row.

As accusations of anti-Semitism continued to consume Labour, a senior party figure claimed the leadership has a “hatred of Jews”.

Dame Margaret Hodge made the damning claim as she launched a fresh all-out attack on Mr Corbyn.

The former minister, who attended a Jewish Labour Movement conference in London on Sunday with ex-PM Gordon Brown, told the Sunday Times: “All (the leadership) can think about is their internal Labour party and their hatred of Jews.

“Jeremy has allowed anti-Semitism and racism to run rife. He needs to renounce much of what he did.”


From Belfast Telegraph