Doubling Down on Corbyn Criticism, Britain's Ex-chief Rabbi Says Jews Considering Leaving U.K.

The Labour leader would pose a danger as prime minister unless he expresses 'clear remorse,' Jonathan Sacks says

File photo: Britain's former Chief Rabbi Dr Jonathan Sacks is seen speaking during an interview at his home in London in this file photo from April 17, 2002
REUTERS

Britain's former chief rabbi has warned that Jewish people are thinking about leaving the country because of anti-Semitism.

Jonathan Sacks told the BBC on Sunday that for the first time in the 362 years Jews have been in Britain many question whether it is safe to raise children here.

He singled out Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn for failing to address anti-Semitic attitudes in the main opposition party, saying Corbyn would pose a danger as prime minister unless he expresses "clear remorse" for past statements.

>> What young Jewish Labour voters think about Corbyn

Some opinion polls put Labour ahead or level with Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservatives, meaning he is a potential British leader, although the next election is not due until 2022.

Sacks said "when people hear the kind of language that has been coming out of Labour, that's been brought to the surface among Jeremy Corbyn's earlier speeches, they cannot but feel an existential threat."

This is Sacks' second jab at Corbyn in a week. Last Tuesday, the former chief rabbi called Corbyn an anti-Semite and said comments about Zionists he made five years ago were the most offensive by a senior U.K. politician in half a century.

Sacks, who was Britain’s chief rabbi from 1991 to 2013, accused Corbyn of having “given support to racists, terrorists and dealers of hate who want to kill Jews and remove Israel from the map.”

Since unexpectedly becoming Labour leader in 2015 after decades spent on the left-wing fringes of the party, Corbyn has repeatedly faced accusations of turning a blind eye to anti-Semitic comments in the party and among groups he supports.

Corbyn has responded to protests by meeting Jewish community leaders, reassuring Jewish people they are welcome in the party. He has also apologized for what he has described as “pockets” of anti-Semitism in his party.

Reuters contributed to this report.