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Jewish News foreign editor takes leave after criticising paper’s coverage of Labour anti-Semitism row in Canary interview

By Sam Forsdick

The foreign editor at the Jewish News is understood to have taken personal leave from the newspaper after describing its coverage of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party as “repulsive” in an interview.

The Jewish News, together with Jewish Chronicle and Jewish Telegraph, warned last month that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn represented an “existential threat to Jewish life” in the UK if he came to power in a joint front-page editorial that ran across all three titles.

The papers’ have criticised Corbyn’s failure to address allegations of anti-Semitism within his party, although Labour has said it “poses no threat of any kind whatsoever to Jewish people”.

The latest edition of the News showcases a collection of its front pages about alleged Labour anti-Semitism, describing it as the “nightmare that never ends”.

Speaking to left-wing website the Canary, Stephen Oryszczuk said: “Some of the phraseology I take a giant step back from, vicious personal phrases like ‘Corbynite contempt for Jews’ which is one step away from calling him a Jew hater.

“It’s repulsive. This is a dedicated anti-racist we’re trashing.”

Press Gazette understands Oryszczuk has taken personal leave from the Jewish News today. His interview with the Canary was published this afternoon.

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Following Labour’s refusal to adopt in full the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism, Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge called Corbyn “a racist and an anti-Semite”.

Although not Jewish himself, Oryszczuk has worked for the paper for six years and spent some time as editor of a Jewish news TV channel.

In the interview he said: “I’m speaking for me, but [the papers] speak for the Jewish community, and many Jews have echoed Dame Margaret Hodge in calling Jeremy Corbyn an ‘antisemite’.

“If the community is beginning to feel that way I respect my paper’s right to reflect that, just as my editor and news editor respect my right to dissent.”

He also described the paper as having a “frothy-mouthed obsession” with the Labour party adopting the IHRA definition of anti=Semitism – the definition adopted by the UK police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the judiciary – adding that last week “passion became apoplexy”.

Oryszczuk also said he felt “a little ashamed” that the Jewish News didn’t give a voice to “Jews who think differently”.

In a statement to Press Gazette Jewish News editorial director Richard Ferrer said: “Every reporter is entitled to a personal view. That’s the core value of journalism in the UK and the freedom of the press we all cherish.

“Stephen’s views on Jeremy Corbyn’s relationship with the Jewish community is categorically at odds with the opinion of the Jewish News and the overwhelming majority of British Jews.

“In fact, since our joint United We Stand editorial with two other Jewish newspapers, the concerns reflected on our front page editorials have become even more pressing.”

Talking about Stephen’s decision to take personal leave from the paper, Ferrer added: “In the light of recent events we respect his decision.”

In an interview with Sky News Ferrer said: “Using terms like ‘overheated rhetoric’ to describe the fears of my newspaper, the Jewish News, I don’t think’s very helpful at all.

“As the editor of a Jewish newspaper I speak to readers, I attend synagogues and community centres in my role and I get an email bag full of correspondence.

“I would say over the last three years, 90 per cent share the concerns of the Jewish News, the Jewish Chronicle and the Jewish Telegraph and we all united last month under the ‘united we stand’ banner.”

A Labour spokesperson has previously told Press Gazette: “Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party are fully committed to the support, defence and celebration of the Jewish community and its organisations.

“The next Labour government poses no threat of any kind whatsoever to Jewish people.

“The security and wellbeing of Jewish people is a priority for our party and in government we will always ensure schools, synagogues and institutions are properly protected.

“We understand the strong concerns raised in the Jewish community and are seeking to engage with communal organisations to build trust and confidence in our party. We know there is a huge amount of work to do.

“The Labour Party is committed to tackling and eradicating anti-Semitism in all its forms, in our party and our society.”

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