Boris Johnson slams ‘boneheaded’ Jeremy Corbyn for not tackling antisemitism as senior Labour MP says he’s ‘absolutely mortified’ by party’s crisis
Boris Johnson today accused Jeremy Corbyn of ‘dog whistling’ to antisemites as he demanded the Labour leader ‘grow up’.
The ex-Foreign Secretary said Mr Corbyn could end the current row over antisemitism in an instant by accepting the international definition of racism against Jews.
But he claimed Mr Corbyn was unable to do so because he shared a belief that Israel was a ‘racist endeavour’ and the biggest obstacle to Middle East peace.
Mr Johnson’s criticism came as Labour MPs renewed their own condemnation on Mr Corbyn for failing to deal with antisemitism while letting investigations go ahead into the actions of angry Jewish Labour MPs.
MPs Ian Austin and Chris Leslie both insisted it was not sustainable for the Labour definition to allow comparison between Israel and the Nazis.
Antisemitism is threatening to engulf the Labour Party after the ruling committee refused to adopt in full the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition.
Instead Labour is insisting on using an amended version of the text critics say gives a greenlight to antisemites.
At the same time, two Labour MPs – Dame Margaret Hodge and Ian Austin – face investigation for angrily confronting Mr Corbyn and his party chairman over the row.
Writing in today’s Daily Telegraph, Mr Corbyn said: ‘In a nutshell, the IHRA says that it would be hurtful and antisemitic to claim that the state of Israel is a ”racist endeavour”; or to draw comparisons between Israeli policy and Nazi Germany.
‘Corbyn thinks it should be acceptable to say both.’
Mr Johnson said it was possible and proper to criticise the government of Israel for its actions and treatment of Palestinians.
He said: ‘We reserve the right to criticise Israeli behaviour and policy, and I don’t believe there is anything remotely antisemitic about such criticism.
‘But Corbyn goes a step further. He believes that it should be perfectly proper to claim that Israel is a ‘racist endeavour’ – that Zionism equals racism – and in doing so he deliberately or unconsciously legitimates a fairly nauseating line of attack on all the millions of Jewish people who, to a greater or lesser extent, identify with Israel.’
Mr Johnson alleged the reason Mr Corbyn would not adopt the IHRA definition in full was because it would mean kicking his own strategy chief Seumas Milne out of Labour.
He said: ‘Like John McDonnell and Seumas Milne, his closest associates, he really does believe that the West is responsible for the woes of the entire Middle East.
‘In his infantile desire to blame the West, he fails to see the true culprits of the current disorder and violence in the region.
‘By his failure to adopt what should be some pretty simple and uncontentious language on antisemitism he is merrily dog-whistling away to all those who want to believe that the ills of the world can be ascribed to a conspiracy of Israel/the West/the bankers.
‘And the greatest tragedy of all is that he is doing nothing, to say the least, to stop the virus of antisemitism.
‘He may be nearly 70, but he needs to grow up. Enough is enough.’
A spokesman for Mr Corbyn declined to comment on Mr Johnson’s intervention.