Jeremy Corbyn has been labelled “irresponsible and dangerous” after attending an event with a radical group that has attacked mainstream Jewish organisations over anti-Semitism allegations engulfing the Labour Party.
Triggering a fresh row over the party’s relations with the Jewish community, the Labour leader on Monday evening attended an event to mark the Jewish feast day of Seder with a left-wing Jewish group called Jewdas, the Guido Fawkes website revealed.
In a statement last week after the Westminster demonstration over anti-Semitism in Labour, the group accused the Jewish Board of Deputies, Jewish Leadership Council and Jewish Labour Movement of “playing a dangerous game with people’s lives”.
Allegations linking Corbyn to anti-Semitism were “the work of cynical manipulations by people whose express loyalty is to the Conservative Party and the right wing of the Labour Party”, said the group.
The statement, issued on March 29, ended with the words: “Enough is enough. F**k you all. Chag Pesach sameach (Happy Passover).”
However, claims that the same words were said at the end of Monday’s event are understood to have been denied by some of those present.
In a tweet, Labour MP John Woodcock, a frequent critic of Corbyn, said meeting the group gave the message that “extreme views are OK”.
He said: “This is deliberately baiting the mainstream Jewish community days after they pleaded with him to tackle anti-Semitism.
“And he must know that meeting them now will give his members the message that the group’s extreme views are ok. Irresponsible and dangerous.
Another Labour MP, Angela Smith, said: “Corbyn’s attendance at the Jewdas seber reads as a blatant dismissal of the case made for tackling anti-Semitism in Labour.”
Karen Pollock, the chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, claimed that Corbyn’s meeting was “clearly deliberate”.
Gideon Falter, chairman of the Campaign Against Antisemitism, described Corbyn’s attendance at an event involving members of Jewdas as “a very clear two fingered salute at mainstream British Jewry”.
Falter said: “Given the anti-Semitism crisis engulfing the Labour Party, there is absolutely no way that Mr Corbyn can claim that this too was an oversight.
“It is hard to imagine how this duplicitous man can claim to be remedying anti-Semitism within the Labour Party. The party must consider the message that is sent to British Jews and other minorities by him remaining as leader.”
A spokesman for the Labour leader said that he had attended an event with Jewish people from his constituency in a personal capacity.
“Jeremy was invited to a Passover Seder with Jewish members of his local community,” said the spokesman.
“He wrote to the Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council last week to ask for an urgent formal meeting to discuss tackling anti-Semitism in the Labour Party and in society.”
Jewdas dismissed the attack, posting a Twitter message: “Great that there’s so much interest in our work tonight! Please feel free to make a donation!”
The group said: “We are proud to be Jews and proud of everyone who attended, whether they were Jewish or not.
“We want everyone to know – we’re leaving Mitzrayim (Egypt). Change is coming. Revolution will come.”
Comedian David Baddiel, who has been at the forefront of the debate over anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, rejected suggestions that Jewdas was “despised” by other members of the Jewish community.
“No it isn’t,” he said. “They are just Jews who disagree with other Jews. Which means: Jews… To make out that it’s somehow anti-Semitic for him to spend Seder with them just because they’re far left is balls.”
Speaking to BBC Radio 4′s Today programme on Tuesday, the founder of Corbyn-backing group Momentum, Jon Lansman, said Jewdas’ comments about Israel were “certainly not helpful to Jeremy or the cause of opposing anti-Semitism in the Labour party”.
However Lansman, who is Jewish and a key ally of Corbyn, said Jewdas were “very much part of the Jewish community” and played down the significance of the Labour leader’s attendance.
“It was his night off. He had nothing in his official diary. His office didn’t know he was there,” he said.
Earlier on Monday, Momentum said anti-Semitism is “more widespread” within the Labour Party than was thought as it argued complaints cannot be dismissed “simply as right-wing smears”.