U.K. Chief Rabbi Slams Labour, Says ‘Soul of Nation’ at Risk

LONDON (AP) -
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis delivers a speech in London, in 2017. (Toby Melville – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

U.K. Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis stepped into Britain’s election campaign Monday, saying the country’s main opposition leader has allowed the “poison” of anti-Semitism to take root in his party.

Rabbi Mirvis said that “the very soul of our nation is at stake” in the Dec. 12 election. Writing in The Times of London, Rabbi Mirvis said Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and his allies had failed to stop anti-Jewish prejudice and “hounded” those who tried to challenge it.

Labour’s election campaign has been dogged by recurring allegations that Corbyn — a longtime champion of the Palestinians — has allowed anti-Jewish prejudice to fester in the left-of-center party.

Corbyn has called anti-Semitism “a poison and an evil in our society” and says he is working to root it out of the party.

But, Rabbi Mirvis said, “the way in which the leadership has dealt with anti-Jewish racism is incompatible with the British values of which we are so proud.”

“It is not my place to tell any person how they should vote. … I simply pose the question: What will the result of this election say about the moral compass of our country?” he wrote.

It is rare for a religious leader to publicly call out the leader of a British political party.