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UK chief rabbi suggests Corbyn 'unfit for office'

UK chief rabbi suggests   Corbyn unfit for office

London: Britain's most senior rabbi on Tuesday suggested Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's handling of anti-Semitism allegations made him "unfit for high office", in an unprecedented intervention ahead of next month's election.

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said "a new poison" had taken hold of the party, which had been "sanctioned from the very top" and left British Jews justifiably "gripped by anxiety" before the December 12 poll.

In a scathing comment piece in The Times, Mirvis described Corbyn's claim to have dealt forcefully with all accusations of anti-Semitism as "mendacious fiction" and that he was responsible for "a failure of leadership".

"The way in which the leadership has dealt with anti-Jewish racism is incompatible with the British values of which we are so proud," he wrote.

"How complicit in prejudice would a leader of Her Majesty's opposition have to be to be considered unfit for office?" The chief rabbi added it was not his place to tell anyone who to support next month but he advised "every person to vote with their conscience".

Labour has been dogged by allegations of widespread anti-Semitism among members since Corbyn -- a lifelong supporter of Palestinian causes -- took over in 2015.

A number of MPs have since quit the party, accusing the veteran socialist of allowing the problem to flourish in its ranks. Two former Labour lawmakers spoke out Tuesday in support of the chief rabbi's condemnation.

Corbyn has repeatedly insisted he is not anti-Semitic and has pledged to "root out" the problem which he recognises has "occurred in pockets" within the party.

In response to Mirvis' comments, Labour said its leader was a "lifelong campaigner against anti-Semitism" who had "made absolutely clear it has no place in our party and society".

"A Labour government will guarantee the security of the Jewish community, defend and support the Jewish way of life, and combat rising anti-Semitism in our country and across Europe," it added.

The chief rabbi's criticism came as Labour on Tuesday was set to unveil a "race and faith" manifesto setting out policies including new units to oversee the legacy of British colonialism and the promotion of racial equality.

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