Britain’s two largest Jewish organizations have agreed to meet with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to address antisemitism in the party.
Writing to the leaders of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and of the Jewish Leadership Council, Jonathan Arkush and Jonathan Goldstein respectively, Corbyn said he accepted the organizations’ agenda for a meeting. “I place no limitations on the points you would wish to raise and am happy for the agenda to cover the issues you’ve already outlined,” he wrote.
The two organizations proposed an agenda that centers on the need for personal leadership from Corbyn to confront the issue, including swift action on outstanding antisemitism disciplinary cases and an educational program for party members.
The agenda also suggested public engagement with the Jewish communities’ main representative groups, and “not through fringe organizations who wish to obstruct the party’s efforts to tackle antisemitism.”
This past week, Corbyn was criticized by the BoD and the Jewish Labour Movement for attending a Passover Seder with the pro-Palestinian Jewish group Jewdas, which is highly critical of mainstream Jewish bodies and has called attacks on Corbyn over antisemitism “politicized.” The Labour leader defended his attendance at the holiday celebration, saying he had met many young Jewish people and “learned a lot.”
In his letter to the BoD and JLC leaders, Corbyn said: “I appreciate and understand the anger you express, and reiterate my determination to fight anti-Semitism within the Labour party and society at large. … I recommit to doing all I can to address the anguish and distress caused to many people in the Jewish community.’’
He added that he would “welcome an early meeting with your organizations to discuss the issues that you have raised. I am a strong believer that engaging in meaningful dialogue is crucial to finding effective solutions and resolving disputes, and I am clear that such a meeting would be just the start of a fruitful ongoing exchange on eradicating antisemitic behavior and discourse within the Labour Party.”