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Jeremy Corbyn: complicit in the rise of European anti-Semitism

One year ago, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair took the stage at the annual AIPAC policy conference, receiving a standing ovation from 18,000 pro-Israel activists. Blair, who led the U.K. Labour Party from 1994 to 2007, governed as a centrist and was seen by many as a great friend of Israel and British Jews.

But today, the relationship between the U.K. Labour Party and British Jews is at a low point, as the party is marred with accusations of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias.

The man responsible for this toxic trend is the current leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn.

Corbyn was elected as the head of the Labour Party in 2015, running on a progressive and populist platform. He has been a longtime critic of Israel and has been caught defending anti-Semitic individuals and extremist groups.

In 2009, Corbyn gave a controversial speech in which he spoke favorably of two anti-Semitic terrorist organizations, Hamas and Hezbollah. “It will be my pleasure and my honor to host an event in Parliament where our friends from Hezbollah will be speaking. I’ve also invited friends from Hamas to come speak as well.”

In 2016, Corbyn compared Israel to Islamic terrorist groups, saying that “Our Jewish friends are no more responsible for the actions of Israel or the Netanyahu government than our Muslim friends are for those of various self-styled Islamic states or organizations.”

Accusations of anti-Semitism made against Corbyn and many of his colleagues in the Labour Party are also warranted. In 2012, Corbyn, along with several other Labour politicians, publicly criticized the removal of a London mural, viewing it as an attack on free speech. What Corbyn failed to mention was that the mural was a reenactment of a scene from the The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an anti-Semitic text from the early 20th that the Nazis used as propaganda. In addition, Corbyn was a member of a controversial Facebook group called “Palestine Live,” which frequently posted links denying the Holocaust and alleges that Israel was behind 9/11.

The sharp turn that the Labour Party has taken under Corbyn has alienated British Jews, just 13% of whom voted for the Labour Party in last year’s election. That’s a far cry from the days of Tony Blair, who received nearly half of the Jewish vote in 1997, when he was elected Prime Minister.

Blair spoke to Israel’s Channel 10 news in early April, responding to a recent demonstration by nearly 2,000 British Jews outside of Parliament, who were protesting against Jeremy Corbyn for his failure to combat anti-Semitism. “I’m extremely sad about it, and anxious about it, and also very determined that the Labour Party should take the action necessary to root out anti-Semitism completely.”

And last week, in perhaps the most dramatic development yet, the leader of the center-left Israeli Labor Party, Avi Gabbay, sent a letter to Jeremy Corbyn, announcing that the party was severing all diplomatic ties with his office.

In the letter, Gabbay, who is one of several candidates challenging Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in next year’s legislative election, rebuked Corbyn for “the hostility that you (Corbyn) have shown to the Jewish community. This is in addition to your very public hatred of the policies of the Government of the State of Israel, many of which regard the security of our citizens—policies where the opposition and coalition in Israel are aligned.”

Gabbay concluded by referencing the Holocaust. “As Israel approaches Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day this week, we are reminded of the horrors of anti-Semitism in Europe and our commitment to combating of all forms and in all places. As such, I write to inform you of the temporary suspension of all formal relations between the Israeli Labor Party and the Leader of the Labour Party U.K.”

Britain, which was once thought to be a safe haven for European Jews fleeing anti-Semitism, faces an uncertain future. With the Brexit negotiations clouding the future of the U.K., there remains a strong possibility of a snap election in the near future, which could result in a Prime Minister Corbyn.

American Jews are lucky to live in a country where there is strong bipartisan support for Israel across party lines, as well as having a Justice Department that is committed to combating anti-Semitism. Unfortunately, our European counterparts don’t have that same privilege.

Hence, it is incumbent upon Jewish Americans, regardless our political alignment, to speak as one in forcefully condemning Jeremy Corbyn for his failure to lead without hate.

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