The Oxford University Labour Club (OULC) has voiced disappointment in Jeremy Corbyn’s apology earlier this week after accusations of anti-Semitism and voiced “solidarity with Jewish Labour members who are calling for greater action to root out antisemitism” in the Labour Party.
Other university Labour Clubs have voiced similar sentiments. The Cambridge Universities Labour Club (CULC) called on the Labour Party to “live up to its higher ideals.” LSE SU Labour have also announced that they will require every member of their committee to “take anti-semitism training In the coming year.”
The Jewish Leadership Council had made a statement against Labour and Corbyn in particular, and said: “Again and again, Jeremy Corbyn has sided with anti-Semites rather than Jews. At best, this derives from the far left’s obsessive hatred of Zionism, Zionists and Israel. At worst, it suggests a conspiratorial worldview in which mainstream Jewish communities are believed to be a hostile entity, a class enemy.”
Corbyn’s apology stated that he was “sincerely sorry”, and said: “We are campaigning to increase support and confidence in Labour among Jewish people in the UK. I know that to do so, we must demonstrate our total commitment to excising pockets of antisemitism that exist in and around our party.”
OULC’s statement, written by Co-Chairs Anisha Faruk and Ray Williams, asked Corbyn to go further in his apology, calling it “not a sufficient response”. They called upon him “to reflect thoroughly upon his own actions as well as to apologise for the party’s consistently inadequate response to internal antisemitism.”
“[Our history of opposing racism] does not absolve us of our responsibility to remain vigilant against prejudice within our own party […] If we fail to respond robustly to hatred and bigotry we betray our fundamental Labour values of solidarity, tolerance, and respect. It must never be forgotten that Jewish people are, and always have been, an integral part of the Labour movement.”
The Co-Chairs’ statement was written with the input of the Club’s executive committee and in consultation with several Jewish members of OULC.
OULC itself has received controversy itself in recent years concerning anti-Semitism. Alex Chalmers resigned from the position of Co-Chair in 2016, citing “some sort of problem with Jews” from several members of the Club. Their most recent statement notes this, saying: “Our Club has tried to learn from its mistakes and so must our party. We will continue to do all that we can to make sure the Club remains a friendly, safe environment.”
Former JSoc President Dov Boonin voiced support for OULC’s statement: “I have great respect for what the current and recent co-chairs of the OULC have achieved.” He went on to say that the Club has “fundamentally transformed”, and expressed hope that “the national Labour Party is able to go through a similar process.”