Corbyn was repeatedly asked to apologize to Britain’s Jewish community hours after the United Kingdom’s chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said Jewish voters should not back the party at the polls next month, calling the Labour boss “unfit for office.”
“We will not allow anti-Semitism in any form in our society because it is poisonous and divisive, just as much as Islamophobia or far-right racism is,” Corbyn said in the interview with the veteran BBC broadcaster Andrew Neil.
Corbyn, 70, also said he is “determined that our society is safe for people of all faiths.” He has been criticized in the past for tolerating anti-Semitic remarks from party members.
Britain’s Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks during a BBC interview in London on Tuesday. Corbyn and his party have been deeply tarnished by anti-Semitism accusations, as the UK prepares to go to the polls in a General Election on Dec. 12. (Jeff Overs/BBC via AP)
Mirvis took issue with Corbyn’s handling of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party’s ranks, writing in column in The Times of London on Monday that the party wasn’t doing enough to root out anti-Jewish prejudice in the left-of-center party.
“The way in which the leadership has dealt with anti-Jewish racism is incompatible with the British values of which we are so proud,” Mirvis said.
“A new poison, sanctioned from the top, has taken root in the Labour Party,” he added.
Anti-Semitism is cited as one of the main reasons by many people as to why they won’t vote for the Labour Party in the Dec. 12 general election.
Britain’s main opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn spoke at the launch of the Labour Party race and faith manifesto in London on Tuesday. (Joe Giddens/PA via AP)
Corbyn called anti-Semitism “a poison and an evil in our society” and said he is working to root it out of the party.
In an effort to start a dialogue, Corbyn said he would invite Mirvis and other religious leaders to discuss their concerns. Corbyn has long been a champion of the Palestinians and has criticized the Israeli government in the past.
All 650 seats in the House of Commons will be decided in the Dec. 12 election. Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the election in hopes of winning a majority to complete Brexit, the planned withdrawal of Britain from the European Union by Jan. 31.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.