Jeremy Corbyn: Claims I endorsed book's antisemitic content are politically motivated

Board of Deputies publishes extraordinary letter Labour leader sent defending himself


Jeremy Corbyn claimed the accusation that he endorsed the content of an antisemitic book was “false” and politically motivated, the Board of Deputies has revealed as it demanded an apology.

In a letter responding to the Board's concerns that he called Imperialism: A Study by John Atkinson Hobson a “great tome” in a foreword he wrote for a recent edition, Mr Corbyn said it was “the latest in a series of equally ill-founded accusations of anti-Jewish racism that Labour’s political opponents have made against me.”

He said it was “of great regret that the issue of antisemitism is often politicised in this way”.

Board President Marie van der Zyl initially wrote an open letter in response, expressing "great concern" over Mr Corbyn endorsing the book which contained "pure and unequivocal racism" and demanded "a full explanation".

On Friday, the Board published his response alongside a follow up from Mrs van der Zyl, who berated his "failure to speak out against prejudice directed our community".

"The Jewish community is entitled to an apology," she told the Labour leader.

“Whilst you, quite correctly, explicitly commended Hobson’s criticism of caricatures of African and Asian people, there is a failure to make even a passing reference to the blatant antisemitism in the book that you enthusiastically endorse.”

The Board said Mr Corbyn’s “double standards” were evidence of a “worrying pattern” in which the Labour leader’s anti-racism is lacking when it comes to racism against Jews.

Mr Corbyn's endorsement of the book was written in 2011 when he was a backbencher. It was unearthed by Daniel Finkelstein in his column for The Times on Wednesday.

The book says the financial system is controlled by people “united by the strongest bonds of organisation, always in closest and quickest touch with one as other, situated in the very heart of the business capital of every state, controlled, so far as Europe is concerned, by men of a single and peculiar race, who have behind them many centuries of financial experience, they are in a unique position to control the policy of nations.”

It also says: “There is not a war, a revolution, an anarchist assassination, or any other public shock, which is not gainful to these men; they are harpies who suck their gains from every new forced expenditure and every sudden disturbance of public credit."

Furthermore, it describes how the direct influence of these financial houses “is supported by the control which they exercise over the body of public opinion through the press”.

The book also asks rhetorically: “Does anyone seriously suppose that a great war could be undertaken by any European state, or a great state loan subscribed, if the house of Rothschild and its connections set their face against it?”

In the foreword he wrote, Mr Corbyn called the book “correct and prescient”. He also wrote of Mr Hobson’s discussion of what the he called “the commercial interests that fuel the role of the popular press with tales of imperial might”.

In his letter to the Board, Mr Corbyn attacked Lord Finkelstein and The Times, saying the article revealing his endorsement was by a “Conservative Party peer in a newspaper whose editorial policy, and owner have long been hostile to Labour".

He added: “As Leader of the Labour Party, I re-state unequivocally that my party and I stand in solidarity with Jewish communities against the worrying rise of antisemitism."

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