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Sadiq Khan calls on Labour to address 'distressing' antisemitism problem

The Mayor of London stopped short of saying he believed Jeremy Corbyn was the right man to resolve the issue.

    Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, spoke to the JC at today's Yom HaShoah commemoration
    Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, spoke to the JC at today's Yom HaShoah commemoration

    Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, has again called on Labour Party colleagues to do more to understand the distress caused by antisemitism in the party.

    He said the depth of the problem “breaks my heart” and stopped short of saying he believed Jeremy Corbyn was the right man to resolve the issue.

    Mr Khan was speaking to the JC at the national Yom HaShoah commemoration in Hyde Park this afternoon.

    Asked to assess the impact Labour’s problem with antisemitism was having in the capital, Mr Khan said: “It’s unacceptable that Londoners of Jewish faith feel the Labour Party is not for them. It upsets me, it breaks my heart, it’s distressing.

    “It’s important that the Labour Party addresses the very serious concerns people have about antisemitism in the party.”

    It was revealed this morning that the Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council will meet Mr Corbyn next week – on April 24.

    Mr Khan said he was pleased Mr Corbyn had asked Jennie Formby, the party’s new general secretary, to “root out antisemitism”, saying there should be “zero tolerance. Antisemitism is racism, and if you’re anti-racist you should be against that too”.

    Did he believe Mr Corbyn was the man to put an end to Jew-hate in Labour?

    Mr Khan said: “I’m pleased two of the Jewish groups are meeting with Jeremy Corbyn, it’s really important. I’m reassured the party understands why it’s crucial we wipe out antisemitism from the party.

    “Good political parties reflect society, great ones shape it. I want Labour to shape society so everyone understands it’s not on for people to think it’s okay to treat Jewish people less well, to discriminate against them, to use language that is offensive.

    “The Labour leadership must take seriously the concerns.”

    Mr Khan said he had campaigned with local election candidates in Barnet – the London borough with the largest number of Jewish residents – yesterday and believed the party’s candidates, including Jewish activists, would be reassured about the steps Labour was taking.

    “I’m confident that the party understands now the impact. It’s not just Jewish people who are upset. What’s important is a sense of solidarity. Racism is racism. Even those of us not on the end of antisemitism stand shoulder to shoulder with the Jewish community.”

    Asked whether he was proud of the efforts he had made, as a Muslim, to be seen as such a staunch ally of the Jewish community, Mr Khan said he understood, as a member of a minority group, what it meant to be “different”.

    He added: “What’s great is that the things we have in common are humongous.

    “I found it unacceptable years ago, as Communities Minister, that there was the level of security at Jewish schools, I just found it deeply offensive as a fellow Londoner.

    “Imagine the impact that has on a youngster, seeing that or going to worship on the Sabbath and knowing your place of worship has security because you’re Jewish. This is the 21st century in the most impressive city in the world. I’ve campaigned to be a mayor for all Londoners and I’ll carry on doing so.

    “My concern is that as time goes on there are fewer Holocaust survivors and I want to learn from them, listen to their stories and anecdotes and be inspired to do better.”

    Mr Khan received a warm welcome at the event and spent time chatting to schoolchildren, communal leaders and survivors while posing for pictures.

    Mr Goldstein later tweeted that Mr Khan was "showing the way and acting as a leader. An example for others in his party to follow".

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