Britain’s former chief rabbi has defended his scathing criticism of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, warning that Jewish people are thinking about leaving the United Kingdom because of the “existential threat” of antisemitism.
Jonathan Sacks told the BBC in an interview published Sunday that for the first time in the 362 years Jews have lived in Britain, many question whether it is safe to raise children there.
He singled out Corbyn for failing to address antisemitic attitudes in the main opposition party, saying the Labour leader would pose a danger as prime minister unless he expressed “clear remorse” for past statements.
Sacks said “when people hear the kind of language that has been coming out of Labour, that has been brought to the surface among Jeremy Corbyn’s earlier speeches, they cannot but feel an existential threat.”
Last week, Sacks branded Corbyn a dangerous antisemite, and accused him of giving “support to racists, terrorists and dealers of hate, who want to kill Jews and remove Israel from the map.” The Labour leader, Sacks said, uses “the language of classic prewar European antisemitism.”
Asked Sunday morning if his criticism of Corbyn went too far, Sacks said “absolutely not.”
“I had to issue a warning, antisemitism has returned to mainland Europe within living memory of the Holocaust,” he added.
“Anyone who befriends Hamas and Hezbollah, anyone who uses the term ‘Zionist’ loosely and without great care is in danger of engulfing Britain in the kind of flames of hatred that has reappeared throughout Europe, and is massively responsible,” Sacks said.