LONDON – Britain’s main opposition Labor party has re-admitted its former leader, Jeremy Corbyn, after reversing the course of comments last month, suggesting that problems with the party’s allegations of anti-Semitism were “overestimated”.
The decision, which came three weeks after Labor stopped Mr Corbyn over the comments, sparked immediate anger from some groups of British Jews, who said his attempts to return last month’s comments were weak.
But while Mr Corbyn’s readmission, taken by a group of the party’s governing body, means he will return to a Labor member, it was unclear on Tuesday night whether he would be allowed to return to the party benches in Parliament. as a labor legislator.
Mr Corbyn’s suggestion that the party’s anti-Semitism problems were exaggerated came last month after a British human rights watchdog found that Labor was responsible for “illegal acts of harassment and discrimination” against Jewish members. The party has long faced accusations that it has lost its response to allegations of anti-Semitism and has intervened on behalf of Mr Corbyn’s political allies.
Following the release of the human rights report, Mr Corbyn said the scandal, which had lasted for years, had been exaggerated by the media and his political opponents.
“An anti-Semite is too much, but the scale of the problem has also been drastically exaggerated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media,” he wrote at the time. “This combination has hurt the Jewish people and should never be repeated.”
Mr Corbyn released on Tuesday statement in an attempt to “clarify any confusion about what I meant.”
“To be clear, concerns about anti-Semitism are neither ‘exaggerated’ nor ‘exaggerated,'” Mr Corbyn said in a recent statement, saying he had also filed with the Labor Party shortly after he was stopped. “The issue I wanted to point out is that the vast majority of Labor members have been and continue to be engaged with anti-racists, strong opponents of anti-Semitism.”
Some Jewish groups in Britain have seen Mr Corbyn’s suspension as the clearest signal from Mr Starmer, a former prosecutor and human rights lawyer, about the party’s changed approach to eradicating anti-Semitism and re-establishing ties with British Jews.
But the expulsion of Mr Corbyn, a longtime torchbearer for the hard labor left, also risks re-engaging the party in fierce factional disputes that have become its trademark during his five-year rule, which ended earlier this year.
While Labor could have hoped that Mr Corbyn’s reinstatement would restore peace in the party, it did not seem to have that effect immediately. Some groups of British Jews, who had long opposed Mr Corbyn’s leadership, reacted angrily, and some Labor MPs also opposed the decision.
“Any reasonable and fair observer would accept Jeremy Corbyn’s statement today as insincere and completely inadequate,” the Jewish labor movement said in a statement. “Again, it turns out that we need to remind the Labor Party that Jeremy Corbyn is not a victim of Labor anti-Semitism – they are Jewish members.
In a statement Tuesday night, Mr Starmer did not address Mr Corbyn’s readmission to the party directly. But he said the former leader’s comments last month were “wrong” and that he would work to establish an independent process to deal with anti-Semitism complaints in the party as soon as possible next year.
“I will not allow ourselves to focus on one person who will prevent us from doing the vital work of fighting anti-Semitism,” he said.
A report by the British Commission on Equality and Human Rights, an independent official control group whose recommendations are legally enforceable, found that Labor political leaders had interfered in their own party’s investigations into anti-Semitic incidents. Among them was a complaint against Mr. Corbyn for once defending a mural containing grotesque caricatures of Jewish bankers.
The oversight group also described the party as creating a culture that can sometimes be seen as tolerant of anti-Semitism and accused two former party officials of making anti-Semitic comments, which it said were illegal harassment.
These problems helped push Mr Corbyn’s candidacy to defeat Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a general election in December.
Some groups of British Jews withered in response to Mr Corbyn’s attempts to clarify his comments on Tuesday.
“The Jewish community does not accept this pathetic non-apology from Jeremy Corbyn,” Marie van der Zyl, chairwoman of the British Jewish Council of Deputies, said in a statement. “Keir Starmer rightly called the day the EHRC report was published a ‘day of shame.’ Jeremy Corbyn’s response, on the other hand, was shameless. “