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Jeremy Corbyn apologises for 'hurt' caused to Jewish community

Attacks against Corbyn's leadership began last week over a Facebook comment he made six years ago.

Jeremy Corbyn

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has apologised for the "hurt" caused by his party towards the Jewish community in Britain.

The statement comes after two Israel lobby groups, the Jewish Leadership Council and Board of Deputies of British Jews, called for a demonstration on Sunday against alleged anti-Semitism within the Labour Party, for which they hold Corbyn to account.

Attacks against Corbyn's leadership sparked last week when Labour lawmaker Luciana Berger dug up a Facebook comment made by Corbyn six years ago.

Berger tweeted a screenshot of Corbyn criticising the removal of a mural in East London.

Berger is reportedly a parliamentary chairperson of the Jewish Labour Movement, a group that lobbies for Israel and has links with the Israeli embassy.

Regarding the mural, Corbyn apologised in a statement on Monday for "not having studied the content of the mural more closely before wrongly questioning its removal in 2012".

"The idea of Jewish bankers and capitalists exploiting the workers of the world is an old anti-Semitic conspiracy theory. This was long ago, and rightly, described as 'the socialism of fools'."

Corbyn called for an "urgent meeting" to discuss the issues.

"I recognise that anti-Semitism has surfaced within the Labour Party, and has too often been dismissed as simply a matter of a few bad apples," Corbyn wrote.

'Playing party politics'

However, the Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) said it was "appalled by the actions and statements of the Board of Deputies", and praised Corbyn's "commitment to anti-racism".

It further accused the Board of Deputies of "playing party politics" ahead of local elections in May.  

"The Board of Deputies and those supporting them must be aware that this is an attempt to influence local elections and has nothing to do with the real and necessary task of challenging racism and anti-Semitism at all levels of political life," JVL wrote in a statement.

They accused the group of remaining "silent" on anti-Semitism in right-wing politics.

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