A Jewish politician from Britain’s Labour Party said the views of Jeremy Corbyn, the frontrunner to head the party, are cause for “serious concern.”
Ivan Lewis, the shadow, or minority, party cabinet minister who is also a former chief executive of the Manchester Jewish Federation, urged his party not to vote for Corbyn.
“Some of [Corbyn’s] stated political views are a cause for serious concern,” Lewis said in letter to his local party members on Friday, according to the Guardian. “At the very least he has shown very poor judgment in expressing support for and failing to speak out against people who have engaged not in legitimate criticism of Israeli governments but in antisemitic rhetoric.”
Corbyn, who has ties to the Socialist Campaign Group, Amnesty International and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, was criticized on Wednesday by the Jewish Chronicle of London, which claimed that he had ties to “Holocaust deniers, terrorists and some outright antisemites.”
“We are certain that we speak for the vast majority of British Jews in expressing deep foreboding at the prospect of Mr. Corbyn’s election as Labour leader,” the newspaper editorialized.
The editorial was written a day after The Daily Mail reported that Corbyn defended a conspiracy theorist who blamed Israel for Sept. 11 in February.
In response to the Jewish Chronicle editorial, Corbyn released a statement saying he was “proud to represent a multicultural constituency of people from all over the world and to speak at every opportunity of understanding between Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and other faiths,” the Guardian reported.
Lewis is the first senior Labour politician to attack Corbyn’s credentials on anti-Semitism.
“It saddens me to have to say to some on the left of British politics that anti-racism means zero tolerance of antisemitism, no ifs, and no buts. I have said the same about Islamophobia and other forms of racism to a minority of my constituents who make unacceptable statements,” Lewis said.
Labour Party members of parliament will vote for their next leader early next month. Britain’s last Labour leader was Ed Miliband, who is Jewish. He stepped down after losing the general election by a wide margin to David Cameron and the Conservative party in May.