British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn was criticized by Jewish groups and left-wing lawmakers Tuesday, after attending a Passover seder organized by a far-left Jewish organization that is a fierce critic of Israel.
Jewdas calls itself a radical and alternative group, which frequently satirizes mainstream U.K. Jewish bodies. Its official Twitter account has called Israel “a steaming pile of sewage which needs to be properly disposed of.”
BBC News reported that Corbyn attended the group's seder on Monday night in a private capacity, staying for four hours. The event took place in Corbyn's north London constituency of Islington.
On its Twitter account, Jewdas posted an "Israel-Palestine prayer" that it said was read at the seder.
"We take a moment to consider how shit the State of Israel is in general and particularly at the moment," the prelude to the prayer stated.
The prayer itself began: "God full of mercy who releases prisoners / Divides seas and breaches fences / Blow a big shofar for our liberation / and carry out a miracle to collect our diasporas / Freedom calls: let water run like judgment upon Jerusalem / And justice like a mighty stream to Gaza."
British political website Guido Fawkes broke the seder story on Monday evening. "At the Jewdas event tonight, Corbyn sat for several hours and brought beetroot from his allotment as a gift," it wrote. "Guests [booed] the name of Jonathan Arkush, the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and shout 'f**k capitalism,'" it added.
BBC News quoted Arkush as saying that if "Jeremy Corbyn goes to their event, how can we take his stated commitment to be an ally against anti-Semitism seriously?"
The Guardian quoted the Jewish Labour Movement's Ivor Caplin as saying Corbyn’s attendance had “truly topped off the worst week on record of awful relations between the Labour party and the Jewish community,” and that Jewish-Labour activists campaigning in local elections “do not deserve the indignity of our leader making the situation worse.”
Labour Party MP John Woodcock called Corbyn's decision to attend the seder "irresponsible and dangerous."
He tweeted, "This is deliberately baiting the mainstream Jewish community days after they pleaded with him to tackle antisemitism. And he must know that meeting [Jewdas] now will give his members the message that the group’s extreme views are ok."
Woodcock's fellow Labour MP, Angela Smith, added, "Corbyn’s attendance at the Jewdas seber [sic] reads as a blatant dismissal of the case made for tackling anti-Semitism in Labour."
Last week, Britain's leading Jewish groups organized a demonstration outside the Houses of Parliament against anti-Semitism within the party, and Corbyn's response to it. Some 1,500 protesters took part in the event, which was labeled "Enough is Enough."
However, Jewdas dismissed the organizers – the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council – saying they were “playing a dangerous game with people’s lives.”
Jewdas also dismissed the anti-Semitism scandal as a “bout of faux-outrage,” saying it was the work of cynical manipulations by people whose express loyalty is to the Conservative Party and the right wing of the Labour Party.” It also called Jewish Chronicle editor Stephen Pollard a "non-Jew."
The latest scandal involving Corbyn and the Jewish community comes after the left-wing political organization Momentum released a statement on Monday saying it acknowledged "the anger, upset and despair within the British Jewish community at the numerous cases of antisemitism in the Labour Party.” It also said it was disappointed in the party’s “failure to date to deal with them in a sufficiently decisive, swift and transparent manner.”
It added that “accusations of antisemitism should not and cannot be dismissed simply as rightwing smears nor as the result of conspiracies," which had been a common response among Corbyn supporters.
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