Board of Deputies outlines steps for Labour to end antisemitism crisis

Board of Deputies Chief Executive Gillian Merron has written to Labour Party General Secretary Jennie Formby, informing her of the essential steps the party needs to take in order to deal with the antisemitism crisis. The letter is a reply to Ms Formby’s own letter “outlining the Labour Party’s recent actions to tackle antisemitism”.

In her letter, Ms Merron emphasises that the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism must be adopted in full with all its examples. She raises concerns about attempts to caveat the  definition. She also makes the point that, while important, the adoption of IHRA alone will not be sufficient to end the crisis. Labour must also:

  • Resolve the outstanding cases
  • Introduce greater transparency to the disciplinary process
  • Tackle the culture of denial of the problem of anitsemitism
  • Introduce education and training
  • Apologise for Jeremy Corbyn’s past comments and affiliations.

Here are some excerpts from the letter:

“While Labour could have used the summer to focus on any number of other serious challenges facing this country, the leadership has chosen to make its priority a fight with British Jews about antisemitism.”

“It is now beyond contention that he has repeatedly shared platforms and joined events with antisemites, terrorist-sympathisers and other extremists, not to challenge them, but to show solidarity. In 2013, Mr Corbyn also made comments about ‘Zionists’, which appear to imply that they are somehow ‘un-British’. This is a classic racist trope.”

“We reject the idea that the above is excusable on the basis that it represents ‘peace-making’. Peace-makers speak to different parties to a conflict and seek to show empathy with both and find common ground. There is no evidence that Mr Corbyn has sought to engage with challenging – or even mainstream – Israeli voices. Through these actions, he has not advanced the cause of peace and, potentially, even set it back.”

“The amount of abuse that Jews have received on social media from those purporting to support Jeremy Corbyn is unfathomably vast. While Mr Corbyn has said that such people do not speak in his name, his unatoned-for actions undoubtedly give the wrong impression about what is permissible.”

“We have no interest in an ongoing dispute with any major political party about the nature of racism against us. However, our mission to promote and defend the interests of the UK’s Jews means that we cannot remain silent in the face of antisemitism. We hope that, over the coming weeks and months, Labour will do the necessary to turn the tide and end this impasse.”

Read the full letter here.


Keep Informed

Sign up for our weekly briefing, delivered to your inbox every Thursday, giving you up to date news on events and activists of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, as well as the activities of member organisations and partners. 
Subscribe to Community Briefing


The Board of Deputies relies on the generous support of the Jewish community through individual contributions and donations. Help us be the voice of the British Jewish community by donating today. All funds received go to our core charitable mission.