The new leader of the Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer has been praised by Jewish leaders after holding a video conference to set out steps the Labour Party would be taking to stamp out antisemitism.
In one of his first actions as Labour leader, Sir Keir wrote to the Board of Deputies of British Jews on Saturday to reiterate his commitment to stamping out antisemitism within the Labour Party, after saying in his pre-recorded victory speech that he was sorry for the grief antisemitism had brought to Jewish communities, adding “I will tear out this poison by its roots and I judge success by the return of our Jewish members and those who felt they could no longer support us.”
On Tuesday, Sir Keir and Labour’s new deputy leader, Angela Rayner held a video conference with Marie van der Zyl, the president of the Board of British Jews, Jonathan Goldstein, chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council, Gerald Ronson, chairman of the Community Security Trust and Mike Katz, chairman of the Jewish Labour Movement. In the meeting, Sir Keir said that he had asked for all outstanding investigations into antisemitism within the party to be “on my desk at the end of the week”.
In a joint statement issued after meeting, the Jewish leader said;
“While we would have fully understood the need to focus entirely on coronavirus at this time, Keir Starmer has already achieved in four days more than his predecessor in four years in addressing antisemitism within the Labour party,”
“As we discussed with Keir and Angela, we want to have a normal relationship with Labour whereby we can discuss the full range of issues affecting our community, from religious freedom to Israel, from Jewish schools to poverty, from refugees to the environment – and not just antisemitism.
“This has certainly been a good start. If the new Labour leadership continues in this way, we can work together to make the changes that will make Labour a proudly anti-racist party once again.”
Sir Keir said after the meeting that he “committed to begin work on setting up an independent complaints process, cooperating fully with the EHRC’s inquiry and asking for a report on all outstanding cases.” He added that he also discussed his ambition to roll out training of all Labour party staff when practically possible.
In a video on Twitter on Wednesday, Starmer sent his ‘warmest wishes to the Jewish community’ as they prepare to celebrate the festival of Passover. Passover, which begins this evening, is one of the most important festivals in the Jewish calendar, marking the exodus of Jews from Egypt over 3,000 years ago. This year, the Jewish community has been asked to stay apart for festivities due to the social distancing guidelines amid the Coronavirus pandemic.
Photo Source: Board of Deputies of British Jews