In an unprecedented intervention, the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, Ephraim Mirvis, has asked in The Times how far Jeremy Corbyn would have to go to be considered “unfit for office”, rhetorically asking readers: “What will the result of this election say about the moral compass of our country? When December 12 arrives, I ask every person to vote with their conscience. Be in no doubt, the very soul of our nation is at stake.”
Acknowledging that he had broken with precedent, he wrote: “Convention dictates that the Chief Rabbi stays well away from party politics — and rightly so. However, challenging racism is not a matter of politics, it goes well beyond that.”
Noting that “British Jews are gripped by anxiety”, he wrote that “the question I am now most frequently asked is: What will become of Jews and Judaism in Britain if the Labour Party forms the next government?”
Remarking on the past four years of Mr Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party, he wrote that the Jewish community had “been treated by many as an irritant, as opposed to a minority community with genuine concerns [about antisemitism in the Labour Party.”
He admonished politicians who “have sat silent” and wrote that “We have learned the hard way that speaking out means that we will be demonised by faceless social media trolls and accused of being partisan or acting in bad faith by those who still think of this as an orchestrated political smear. Yet, I ask myself: should the victims of racism be silenced by the fear of yet further vilification?”
The Chief Rabbi then exhorted British voters to examine their consciences before voting, pleading “with the heaviest of hearts, I call upon the citizens of our great country to study what has been unfolding before our very eyes.” Enumerating failures by the Labour Party to act, and listing some of Mr Corbyn’s own antisemitic acts, he concluded: “How far is too far? How complicit in prejudice would a leader of Her Majesty’s opposition have to be to be considered unfit for office? Would associations with those who have incited hatred against Jews be enough? Would describing as ‘friends’ those who endorse the murder of Jews be enough? It seems not. It is not my place to tell any person how they should vote. I regret being in this situation at all. I simply pose the question: What will the result of this election say about the moral compass of our country? When December 12 arrives, I ask every person to vote with their conscience. Be in no doubt, the very soul of our nation is at stake.”
The Chief Rabbi is the latest Jewish religious leader to break with convention and speak out on politics. In the past month, Rabbi Jonathan Romain called on his community to vote against Labour and Rabbi Yuval Keren told his community to vote tactically against Labour.
On 28th May, the Equality and Human Rights Commission launched a full statutory investigation following a formal referral and detailed legal representations from Campaign Against Antisemitism, which is the complainant.
Over 58,000 people have now signed our petition denouncing Jeremy Corbyn as an antisemite and declaring him “unfit to hold any public office.”
On 8th December, regardless of religion, race or politics, Jews and non-Jews alike will gather in Parliament Square to declare that they stand together against antisemitism in the face of Jew-hatred in politics and mounting anti-Jewish hate crime.