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Labour antisemitism caused by ‘unwillingness’ to separate religion from politics, says Alastair Campbell

The former Downing Street press secretary spoke to the JC before addressing a communal charity dinner this week

    Alastair Campbell speaking to the JC's Ben Weich (Yakir Zur Photography)
    Alastair Campbell speaking to the JC's Ben Weich (Yakir Zur Photography)

    Alastair Campbell believes the Labour Party’s problems with antisemitism may be down to “an unwillingness in some quarters” to separate Judaism from the policies of the Israeli government.

    Mr Campbell, the Downing Street press secretary under Tony Blair, did not attribute this to the party’s current leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

    Speaking to the JC before his address at the annual fundraising dinner for communal mental health charity Jami, in which he spoke about his own battles with depression and alcoholism, Mr Campbell said: “I just don’t really understand why (antisemitism) exists.

    “People can say to me ‘oh, it’s about money’ or something – but I just don’t understand it on an intellectual level.

    “Is there a problem in the Labour Party? There’s clearly a problem in the Labour Party because there are inquiries and investigations and things.

    “There’s a kind of unwillingness in some quarters – and I’m not saying it’s Corbyn – to separate out the Jewish faith and whatever Israel is doing at any given point, and I think that’s wrong.

    “I think that’s where the problem is.”

    The 60-year-old writer and broadcaster also said Mr Blair, Prime Minister between 1997 and 2007, had a “very strong admiration” for the British Jewish community.

    He said: “He certainly did lots and lots of events with the Jewish community.

    “I think he did feel he could play that role in terms of separating out Israel and the Jewish people – which are often not the same thing.

    “I’d say it wasn’t education, education, education, but he was conscious of the need to have very, very good relations.

    “Not just through the individuals but also through organisations.”

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