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Just what is Jewdas?

The obscure fringe group are suddenly at the top of the news agenda – but what are their beliefs?

    Jewdas, the group which hosted Jeremy Corbyn at a Seder last night, is a left-wing and anti-Zionist organisation of British Jews.

    Representing what it describes as “radical voices for the alternative diaspora”, Jewdas has been fiercely critical of both the state of Israel and the mainstream British Jewish communal leadership.

    The group tweeted last December that Israel was “a steaming pile of sewage which needs to be disposed of”, and claimed last week’s protest against antisemitism was “the work of cynical manipulations by people whose express loyalty is to the Conservative Party and the right wing of the Labour Party”.

    Jewdas also accused the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council, which have led the challenges to Mr Corbyn’s record on antisemitism, of “playing a dangerous game with people’s lives”.

    On its Facebook page, the group says it was founded in 2004, although its first event seems to have been a Purim party in 2006. It has grown more active since 2014.

    Besides its presence at anti-Israel demonstrations, Jewdas activists are known for their anti-fascist activism.

    In 2016 members joined a counter-demonstration of a far-right rally in Dover over the arrival of Syrian refugees into Britain.

    It held its inaugural "Birthwrong" trip – a subversion of the pro-Israel Birthright programme – in southern Spain in 2015.

    It was advertised as a “trip for anyone who's sick of Israel's stranglehold on Jewish culture and wants to get away on a raucous holiday”.

    Jewdas - which has a membership which skews towards the young - has fielded candidates for the position of president of the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) in each of the last two years. They finished last on both occasions.

    A spokesman for Mr Corbyn confirmed that he attended last night’s Seder near to his Islington North constituency, in north London, in a personal capacity, rather than as the Labour Party leader.

    The Seder, billed as an “anti-capitalist, anti-nationalist” event, was held at St Peter’s de Beauvoir church in Hackney. According to the event page on Facebook, it was attended by 69 Jewdas members.

    One of its founding members is Joseph Finlay, a popular Jewish musician and former choirmaster of Hendon Reform Synagogue.

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