Corbyn accused of comparing Israel to IS at anti-Semitism report launch
Leon Neal (AFP)
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn stirred new controversy on Thursday while speaking at the launch of the party's anti-Semitism report.
"Our Jewish friends are no more responsible for the actions of Israel or the Netanyahu Government than our Muslim friends are for those of various self-styled Islamic states or organisations," Corbyn told reporters at the event, according to a transcript of his speech posted to the Labour press office website.
"Nor should Muslims be regarded as sexist, antisemitic or otherwise suspect, as has become an ugly Islamophobic norm. We judge people on their individual values and actions, not en masse," he continues.
When asked if he just compared Israel to the Islamic state, Corbyn quickly denied having made any such connection, only to repeat his previous statement.
“The point is that you shouldn’t say to someone that just because they’re Jewish you must have an opinion on Israel, any more that you say to anyone who’s a Muslim you must have an opinion on the vile actions being taken by people misquoting the good name of Islam in what they do,” he said.
“Of course we as Labour Party members must all be free to criticize and oppose injustice and abuse wherever we find it. But as today’s Report recommends, can we please leave Hitler and Nazi metaphors alone (especially in the context of Israel). Why? Because the Shoah is still in people’s family experience. If every human rights atrocity is described as a Holocaust, Hitler’s attempted obliteration of the Jewish people is diminished or de-recognized in our history," he added.
Leader of Israel's Labour party and main opposition, Isaac Herzog, tweeted a response to Corbyn's comments, calling them "outrageous, unacceptable, and a betrayal of global Labour values."
"Corbyn's views represent a consistent hatred of Israel. Like the notorious Ernest Bevin failed, so too will Jeremy Corbyn," Herzog wrote in a second tweet.
Likewise, Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni tweeted "Corbyn's words imply a serious lack of moral judgement. Just as all Muslims are not to blame for ISIS, not all Brits are to blame for Corbyn."
Ernest Bevin, former Labour politician and Prime Minister during the withdrawal from British Mandate of Palestine ahead of the creation of the State of Israel, was widely criticized as anti-Semitic.
Jewish Labour MP verbally attacked
Jewish Labour MP Ruth Smeeth was verbally attacked by an activist with the "Momentum" group which supports Jeremy Corbyn, accusing her of conspiring with the right-wing media.
"This morning, at the launch of the Chakrabarti Inquiry into antisemitism, I was verbally attacked by a Momentum activist and Jeremy Corbyn supporter who used traditional antisemitic slurs to attack me for being part of a 'media conspiracy'," Smeeth said in a statement after leaving the event.
Corbyn, meanwhile, stood by and did nothing, said Smeeth.
"It is beyond belief that someone could come to the launch of a report on antisemitism in the Labour Party and espouse such vile conspiracy theories about Jewish people, which were ironically highlighted as such in Ms Chakrabarti's report, while the leader of my own party stood by and did absolutely nothing," she said.
"People like this have no place in our party or our movement and must be opposed. Until today I had made no public comment about Jeremy’s ability to lead our party, but the fact that he failed to intervene is final proof for me that he is unfit to lead, and that a Labour Party under his stewardship cannot be a safe space for British Jews," she continued, adding "I have written to the General Secretary of the Labour Party and the Chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party to formally complain about this morning’s events."
She then called on Corbyn to resign as Labour leader and urged someone with "backbone' to take his place.
"No-one from the Leader’s office has contacted me since the event, which is itself a catastrophic failure of leadership. I call on Jeremy Corbyn to resign immediately and make way for someone with the backbone to confront racism and antisemitism in our party and in the country."
Following the incident, the man, identified as Marc Wadsworth, claimed that he did not know Smeeth was Jewish.
“I didn’t have a clue that Ruth Smeeth is Jewish. I’ve never been called anti-semitic in my life," he said. "I’ve fought against anti-semitism and racism. During the anti-apartheid struggle, I fought alongside the Jewish Board of Deputies. The Jewish people have an ally in me.”
According to Britain's Independent newspaper, Wadsworth was handing out leaflets at the launch accusing Labour MPs who expressed no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn of being “self-indulgent” and “divisive,” and called for them to be replaced with “socialists who will fight for the ordinary people.”
Smeeth had distinguished herself as a party member who resigned her position after losing confidence in Corbyn, said the Independent.
'Resist the use of Hitler'
Members of the British Labour Party should "resist the use of Hitler, Nazi and Holocaust metaphors, distortions and comparisons in debates about Israel-Palestine in particular," the Shami Chakrabarti inquiry into anti-Semitism in the party recommended in its report released Thursday morning.
The 30-page report concludes with 20 recommendations aimed at helping the party to "lead by example" and end its long-running problem with anti-Semitic members.
The report also stresses epithets such as "Zio" should have no place in Labour discourse.
It also warns against minimizing the Holocaust or attempting to question responsibility for it.
Chakrabarti said the party should not refrain from imposing life bans on members and recommends Labour's National Executive Committee adopt a wider range of possible punishments less sever than expulsions.
Before its release, the inquiry's vice-chair Professor David Feldman has become the target of criticism for his involvement with the Jewish Voices (IJV), which had released a statement claiming that allegations of anti-Semitism in the Labour party were in some cases “baseless and disingenuous”.
Feldman later said the group's statement did not reflect the views of every group member adding he hoped the inquiry would calm recent turmoil in the Labour party.
Labour in recent months "secretly" suspended 50 members for anti-Semitic and racist comments.
Party leader Jeremy Corbyn himself has come under fire, criticized in the past for referring to Lebanon's powerful Shiite militia Hezbollah and the Gaza based Islamist Hamas group as "friends" and urging dialogue with the Hamas movement, as well as meeting representatives of both organizations.
The string of suspensions follows revelations in March about party leader Jeremy Corbyn's ties with a radical Islamic cleric who has previously called for Israel's destruction.
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once again corbyn cannot bring himself to outright condemn anti-semitism, without mentioning "islamophobia"! islam is not a race!
He (Mr. Corbyn) said: "To assume that a Jewish friend or fellow member is wealthy, some kind of financial or media conspiracy, or takes a particular position on politics in general or on Israel and on Palestine in particular, is just wrong. "Our Jewish friends are no more responsible for the actions of Israel or the Netanyahu government than our Muslim friends are for those various self-styled Islamic States or organisations." What fair-minded person can argue with that statement? "once again corbyn cannot bring himself to outright condemn anti-semitism, without mentioning "islamophobia"! islam is not a race!"? Why shouldn't Mr. Corbyn mention other forms of discrimination when condemning antisemitism? He's obviously against discrimination on grounds of race, religion and sexual orientation. Does Neil see antisemitism as a special form of doscrimination for a special set of people? I hope not. That would be discrimination .... as is antisemitism.
you're so predictable Michael, and you know what, you and corbyn deserve each other. Corbyn's comparison on Israel and ISIS is reprehensible in the highest order. Israel is a democratic state with an independent judiciary, a free press and a diverse population of many cultures, religions and creeds. ISIS is a terrorist entity whose barbarities have been condemned by all those who value our common humanity. This was a special report on antisemitism Michael not "islamophobia". No one's calling anyone special here, and no is claiming to be special... that you ask this question is pointless
This motion will be out
Neil - "Israel is a democratic state with an independent judiciary, a free press and a diverse population of many cultures, religions and creeds. ISIS is a terrorist entity whose barbarities have been condemned by all those who value our common humanity." I agree and I'm certain that Mr. Corbyn would agree. Nothing that he has said goes against your statement. What Mr. Corbyn did say say, but you didn't appear to comprehend, was to say that every person of a certain religion or of a certain race cannot be held responsible for the actions of others who practise that religion or are of that race. I'm glad that you find me predictable .... I have certain values that may not align with yours but they're still my values. We all need them to be consistent. "you and corbyn deserve each other." .... I'm taking that as a complement. I won't say that Liberman and you deserve each other, I could to Borny. Speaking of Bornny ........ why, Borny, do you insist on calling Mr. Corbyn anti-semitic? Do you have a quote? Do share it with us. Anti-Israel? Of course he's against its actions. Many in this world are.
Read between the lines, Michael. Seriously. Unless you choose not to. Michael, I'm also afraid to say that if one chooses to hold Israel to different standards to any other country in the world, criticise Israel's policies but no other countries' contentious policies, call for the BDS of Israel goods on the grounds of "humanitarian reasons" but no ignore actual human rights abuses by other countries, associate with or entertain anti-Israel terrorist organisations, deny Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state in secure borders, then one is anti-Semitic based on the international working definition. You don't have to only cal Jews filthy, money-grabbing, or anything else in the protocols of elders of Zion to be antisemitic.