Jeremy Corbyn hopes Sir Gerald Kaufman will say sorry for ‘Jewish money’ comment


Labour leaders have told Jewish groups that they hope Sir Gerald Kaufman will apologise for his controversial “Jewish money” comments.

In a letter to the Board of Deputies, Community Security Trust and Jewish Leadership Council, Labour’s chief whip, Rosie Winterton, said she and Jeremy Corbyn wanted Sir Gerald to say sorry.

Speaking at a Palestine Return Centre event in Parliament a fortnight ago, Sir Gerald was recorded by blogger David Collier saying that the British government had become more pro-Israel in recent years.

He said: “It’s Jewish money, Jewish donations to the Conservative Party – as in the general election in May – support from the Jewish Chronicle, all of those things, bias the Conservatives.”

Sir Gerald, Father of the House of Commons, then told the audience of 45 people that the Israeli government had made up the recent spate of violent attacks in order to allow it to “execute Palestinians”.

Last week Mr Corbyn responded to Jewish groups urging him to take disciplinary action by saying his MP’s comments were “completely unacceptable and deeply regrettable. Such remarks are damaging to community relations, and also do nothing to benefit the Palestinian cause”.

Ms Winterton wrote to the groups on Tuesday afternoon in response to a letter they had sent to Labour chiefs last week.

She told them: “Jeremy and I hope that Sir Gerald will apologise for his remarks.”

Sir Gerald, 85, has not responded publicly to the criticism and outrage surrounding his comments.

A CST spokesman said: "The official response from the Labour Party is formulaic and inadequate. It lacks meaningful disciplinary action and the 'Jewish money' remarks are not even plainly called out as antisemitic language.

"This will do little to calm our community's growing concerns about how seriously such matters are taken."

Board president Jonathan Arkush said: "We have noted that the Labour Party has issued a reprimand to Sir Gerald Kaufman and moreover has called on him to issue an apology for the disgracefully racist language he used.

"The Board wishes to restate that there should be zero tolerance of antisemitism in Britain today from wherever it may come.”

JLC chief executive Simon Johnson said Ms Winterton's response was "disappointing. There is no call for an apology from Sir Gerald; nor has there been an apology.

"There is also no indication that if similar comments are made in the future, by Sir Gerald or any of his colleagues, that there would be any consequences or disciplinary sanctions.”

Earlier, the trio of Jewish organisations called on Labour MP Andy Slaughter to clarify his own remarks made at the PRC event.

Mr Slaughter said he was “not listening” during his colleague’s speech to the group, but the Hammersmith MP went on to refer twice to what Sir Gerald had said when he made his own speech minutes later.

As reported by the JC last week, when Shadow Human Rights Minister Mr Slaughter spoke he said drone strikes showed the Israeli government would “take anybody out, young people, could be people who are just going about their ordinary business, and then, as Gerald said, fabricate, invent a reason as to why you land a drone strike or you then shell, or what have you”.

He also referred to part of Sir Gerald’s speech about Conservative MPs and said: “Gerald was right to say that there is little — little but very good — support from the Tory benches. We had about 40 Tory MPs, 30 or 40 who voted for the Palestinian recognition.”

Following the outrage over Sir Gerald’s remarks, Mr Slaughter repeatedly distanced himself from the comments.

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