Fresh Labour anti-Semitism row over Jeremy Corbyn Israel comments

Posted On: 
30th June 2016

Jeremy Corbyn was plunged into a fresh anti-Semitism row today after he appeared to compare the Israeli government to the so-called Islamic State.

Jeremy Corbyn and Shami Chakrabarti at the launch of her report into anti-semitism
PA Images

He made his remarks at the launch of a report by human rights campaigner Shami Chakrabarti into claims of anti-Jewish prejudice in the Labour party.

The report said terms like "Zio" - a derogatory term used to describe Jewish supporters of the Israli state - "should have no place in Labour party discourse going forward".

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It also called on Labour members to "resist the use of Hitler, Nazi and Holocaust metaphors, distortions and comparisons in debates about Israel-Palestine in particular".

In a speech at the launch of the report, Mr Corbyn insisted there was no place for racism of any kind - including anti-Semitism - in the Labour party.

He added: "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."

Asked by PoliticsHome whether he was comparing Israel to a terrorist group, Mr Corbyn said: "No, no of course I'm not. The point in the report is that you shouldn't say to somebody just because they're Jewish, you must have an opinion on Israel. Any more than you say to anyone who is a Muslim you must have an opinion on any vile action that's been taken by misquoting the good name of Islam. I just ask people to be respectful and inclusive in their debate."

Sources close to Mr Corbyn later insisted he had been talking about "self-styled" Islamic countries like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, but admitted that by "organisations", the Labour leader was referring to IS as well as other terror groups like Hamas, Hezbollah and al-Qaeda.

Labour activists were swift to condemn his words, and it was also claimed that Mr Corbyn had been reported to the party's Compliance Unit, which examines the behaviour of members.

Luke Akehurst, director of We Believe In Israel said: "I think it's really unfortunate that at an event with a very considered report being released and in a speech where he otherwise made some very good points, that he chose to form a sentence in a way that appeared to compare anything the state of Israel has done to anything that IS has done, and then did not clarify this in questioning.

"If this was deliberate, it's incredibly inflammatory and offensive, and if it wasn't, he needs to apologise as quickly as possible."



Jewish Tory MP Mike Freer said: "Jeremy Corbyn proves how little he understands about anti-Semitism. To contrast the democratic state of Israel with ISIS is a further example of the casual anti-Semitism within so much of the Labour movement."