Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Former chief rabbi condemns Corbyn comments on British Zionists

A former chief rabbi says Jeremy Corbyn's comments about British Zionists are the "most offensive statement" by a politician since Enoch Powell's "Rivers of Blood" speech.

In an interview with the New Statesman, Lord Sacks accused the Labour leader of being an "anti-Semite".

A video from 2013 of Mr Corbyn accusing British Zionists of having "no sense of English irony" emerged last week.

A Labour Party spokesman called Lord Sacks's comment "absurd and offensive".

Zionism refers to the movement to create a Jewish state in the Middle East, roughly corresponding to the historical land of Israel, and thus support for the modern state of Israel.

The clip - published by the Daily Mail - showed Mr Corbyn speaking at the Palestinian Return Centre and recalling a disagreement between some Zionists and the Palestinian representative to the UK, Manuel Hassassian, following a speech Mr Hassassian had made in Parliament.

He said: "This [Hassassian's speech] was dutifully recorded by the thankfully silent Zionists who were in the audience on that occasion, and then came up and berated him afterwards for what he'd said."

Mr Corbyn, who was a backbench MP at the time, went on to claim that the people concerned "clearly have two problems".

"One is they don't want to study history, and secondly, having lived in this country for a very long time, probably all their lives, they don't understand English irony either."

Speaking for the first time on the anti-Semitism row within the Labour Party, Lord Sacks - who held the post of chief rabbi between 1991 and 2013 - told the magazine: "The recently disclosed remarks by Jeremy Corbyn are the most offensive statement made by a senior British politician since Enoch Powell's 1968 'Rivers of Blood' speech.

"It was divisive, hateful and like Powell's speech it undermines the existence of an entire group of British citizens by depicting them as essentially alien."

Crossbench peer Lord Sacks said Mr Corbyn could only be judged by his "words and actions", before adding that he had given support to "racists, terrorists and dealers of hate who want to kill Jews and remove Israel from the map".

Lord Sacks said: "When he implies that, however long they have lived here, Jews are not fully British, he is using the language of classic pre-War European anti-Semitism.

"When challenged with such facts, the evidence for which is before our eyes, first he denies, then he equivocates, then he obfuscates.

"This is low, dishonest and dangerous. He has legitimised the public expression of hate, and where he leads, others will follow."

BBC      News.

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