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Anti-Semitism row: Corbyn has been 'misinterpreted' says close ally

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British Jews could leave the country in the event of Corbyn-led government, Lord Sacks said
Labour can resolve its anti-Semitism crisis quickly, John McDonnell has said, insisting Jeremy Corbyn's views on Israel have been "misinterpreted".The shadow chancellor told the BBC that the party should accept in full the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance guidelines on anti-Semitism, as long as free speech was protected.But ex-Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks said Mr Corbyn must also "repent and recant".A Corbyn-government was an "existential threat" to British Jews, he said. The party has been beset by arguments over the issue throughout the summer, prompting two MPs - John Woodcock and Frank Field - to resign the whip and others to threaten to do the same.
Jewish Labour MPs are currently meeting in London in a show of solidarity and in an effort to exert pressure on the leadership ahead of Tuesday's meeting of Labour's National Executive Committee - where the question of whether Labour will adopt the IHRA's definition of anti-Semitism and all its examples will be discussed.
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Eighteen months of rancour within the party over claims of growing anti-Semitism came to a head last month when footage from 2013 emerged of Mr Corbyn saying a group of British Zionists had "no sense of English irony" despite a lifetime in the country. Labour MP Luciana Berger said it made her "feel unwelcome" in the party while Lord Sacks branded his comments as "the most offensive statement" by a politician since the late Conservative MP Enoch Powell's 1968 Rivers of Blood speech.Speaking publicly for the first time since he made those remarks, the former chief rabbi told the Andrew Marr show he stood by his criticism of Mr Corbyn and suggested British Jews were considering leaving the country because of the prospect of him becoming prime minister."Jeremy Corbyn must repent and recant as quickly as possible," he said.
Mr McDonnell said he wanted to avoid a split 'at all costs'
"When people hear the kind of language that's been coming out of Labour, that's been brought to the surface among Jeremy Corbyn's earlier speeches, they cannot but feel an existential threat.""I'm afraid that until he expresses clear remorse for what he said and what his party has done to its Jewish sympathisers, as well as its Jewish MPs, then he is as great a danger as Enoch Powell was.""Anyone who uses the term 'Zionist' loosely without great care is in danger of engulfing Britain in the kind of flames of hatred that have reappeared throughout Europe and is massively irresponsible."
'Brutally honest'
But Mr McDonnell said that while Lord Sacks had been "brutally honest", he was wide of the mark, because Mr Corbyn had never solely blamed Israel for the conflict in the Middle East and had consciously distinguished between Zionists and the Jewish population in general."I just say to Lord Sacks 'you've got it wrong, come and talk to us'," he said.
Anti-Semitism row: Corbyn has been 'misinterpreted' says close ally

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Frank Field says Labour should be a 'champion against racism'
"You've misinterpreted what's gone on. I think you've got, really have misinterpreted Jeremy. I've known him for over 30 years. His whole life has been devoted to anti-racism, to peace and justice."He said the decision on whether to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance guidelines in full was a matter for Labour's ruling body but he suggested he backed it personally.He claimed a solution was within reach that could "satisfy all sides" if Labour promised "full engagement" with the Jewish community going forward but members were able to continue to criticise the actions of the Israeli government within clear boundaries and the rights of Palestinians were also recognised."I think we can resolve this quickly and constructively and as a party move forward," he said.
'Simple message'
But former MP Ivor Caplin, who is chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, said it and other groups were only prepared to have a dialogue with Mr Corbyn if he made it "very clear" that he would take firm action against anti-Semites in the party and others engaging in "bad behaviour" at a local level. "The message is simple," he said. "Do what is right for Britain and then we can have further conversations."Amid growing warnings that Labour was facing a 1980s-style split, Mr McDonnell said the party must remain a "broad church" and he hoped Mr Field would "come back into the fold". The Birkenhead MP, a former welfare minister, quit the Labour group at Westminster on Thursday over what he called the party's "tolerance" of anti-Semitism and a "culture of nastiness". While Labour MPs who resigned the whip should normally trigger a by-election, Mr McDonnell said in this case he did not want to "go anywhere near that" given Mr Field's long service to the party.
Labour Party
Anti-Semitism
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