Saturday, 6 Jun 2020 - 14 of Sivan, 5780

New Labour Party leader Keir Starmer to hold video conference with Jewish leaders

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‘’In my acceptance speech, I have apologised unequivocally on behalf of the Labour Party for our failure to stamp out antisemitism. I now repeat that apology to you.(…) Antisemitism has been a stain on our party. I have seen the grief it’s brought to so many Jewish communities. I will tear out this poison by its roots and judge success by the return of Jewish members and those who felt that they could no longer support us.’’

Keir Starmer said he has been ‘’saddened’’ to learn of the particularly high death rate in the Jewish community from the coronavirus pandemic.  ‘’Please be assured of my sympathy and solidarity at this time and if there is anything the Labour party can do to help, please let us know,’’ he wrote.

In a letter to Marie van der Zyl, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Keir Starmer, the new Labour Party leader, has reiterated his commitment ‘’to stamping out antisemitism within te party and to extend an invitation to meet to discuss this further.’’

‘’In my acceptance speech, I have apologised unequivocally on behalf of the Labour Party for our failure to stamp out antisemitism. I now repeat that apology to you.(…) Antisemitism has been a stain on our party. I have seen the grief it’s brought to so many Jewish communities. I will tear out this poison by its roots and judge success by the return of Jewish members and those who felt that they could no longer support us.’’

Starmer, whose wife is Jewish, stressed that he adopted the Board of Deputies’ Ten Pledges on tackling antisemitism and said he would like to hold a video conference with Marie van der Zijl and leaders of the Jewish Leadership Council, the Community Security Trust and the Jewish Labour Movement.

The Labour Party under Starmer’s predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn, is being investigated by the Equality and Human Rights Commission over claims of institutional antisemitism. It is due to issue its report this year.

Corbyn’s five-year tenure was marked by a massive rise in antisemitism and anti-Zionism in the party, with the majority of British Jews considering Corbyn personally antisemitic. Labour’s crushing defeat in the December general elections was met with relief by the 250,000-member Jewish community.

In this letter, the new Labour leader also said he has been ‘’saddened’’ to learn of the particularly high death rate in the Jewish community from the coronavirus pandemic.  ‘’Please be assured of my sympathy and solidarity at this time and if there is anything the Labour party can do to help, please let us know,’’ he wrote.

On Monday, the number of coronavirus-related fatalities has risen to 115 among British Jews,  up from 85 on Friday, according to figures from the Board of Deputies.

The figure covers fatalities both in hospital and beyond, using data gathered from six of the largest Orthodox and denominational burial boards.

Marie van der Zijl said in a statement: “We were very pleased that he and all the other leadership contenders signed up to the Board of Deputies’ Ten Pledges on antisemitism. The new Deputy Leader Angela Rayner also signed up to these pledges and we also congratulate her on her election victory. Now they must act to rid the party of the awful disease of anti-Jewish racism.’’

“As the Corbyn era comes to an end, it is clear that history will not look kindly on Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party, where anti-Jewish racism has been allowed to run amok and some at the highest levels of the Party have appeared to collude to protect – rather than discipline – antisemites.’’

“Keir Starmer has made some headway already today in the statement he made and in the letter he has written to us. We have always said that the Labour Party leader will be judged on his actions rather than his words and this remains the case today,’’ the BOD President added.

Campaign Against Antisemitism Chief Executive Gideon Falter commented: ‘’As the new leader of the Labour Party, Sir Keir has no time to lose in making good on his pledge to seek out antisemitism and ‘tear out this poison by its roots’ and rebuild relations with the Jewish community.”

“This must start with addressing our outstanding complaints against Jeremy Corbyn and disciplining him in order to send a message that anti-Jewish racism no longer has a home in the Labour party,” Falter urged.

According to the Jewish News, Keir Starmer has made changes in his inner circle as he dismissed key allies of Jeremy Corbyn.

But it has been reported that Lisa Nandy, who is the chair of Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East, was appointed as Foreign Secretary in Keir Starmer’s shadow cabinet.

‘’Anybody apart from Jeremy Corbyn is good for us,’’ commented Sheila Gewolp, BOD’s Senior Vice President.

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