One of Britain’s leading Jewish figures dismissed Jeremy Corbyn’s attempts to backtrack from recent revelations about his views on the Jewish people and the State of Israel.
By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks called Jeremy Corbyn an out-and-out anti-Semite in his first comments on the Labour party leader’s recently revealed remarks on the State of Israel and the UK’s Jewish community, reported the New Statesman paper on Tuesday.
Corbyn’s words “undermine the existence of an entire group of British citizens by depicting them as essentially alien,” the highly respected religious leader said.
He was referring specifically to a newly revealed speech Corbyn made in 2013 to Palestinians and their supporters in London about “Zionists” having “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.”
However, the rabbi went on to say that it reflected the opposition leader’s broader, hateful view of Jews.
“We can only judge Jeremy Corbyn by his words and his actions,” he explained in his interview.
“He has given support to racists, terrorists and dealers of hate who want to kill Jews and remove Israel from the map. 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.”
Corbyn had tried to explain away his remarks by saying that he had used the word “Zionist” in the “accurate political sense and not as a euphemism for Jewish people.”
But Sacks, who in his position as chief rabbi from 1991 to 2013 learned the ins and outs of political speech and how the leadership of his country works, warned starkly, “He has legitimized the public expression of hate, and where he leads, others will follow.”
Jews in England are right to be worried about what is happening, he said, considering their historical experience.
“Now, within living memory of the Holocaust, and while Jews are being murdered elsewhere in Europe for being Jews, we have an anti-Semite as the leader of the Labour Party and Her Majesty’s opposition. That is why Jews feel so threatened by Mr. Corbyn and those who support him.”
“For more than three and a half centuries, the Jews of Britain have contributed to every aspect of national life,” he added. “We know our history better than Mr. Corbyn, and we have learned that the hate that begins with Jews never ends with Jews. Mr. Corbyn’s embrace of hate defiles our politics and demeans the country we love.”
The Times of London agreed with Sacks, putting out an editorial on Friday calling Corbyn “straightforwardly antisemitic,” and judging that his words “render him ineligible for membership, let alone leadership, of a democratic party and for public office.”
There have already been petitions posted online demanding Corbyn’s resignation, and his party’s own Labour Against Anti-Semitism group has said it has lodged a formal complaint within the party for anti-Semitism “and for bringing the party into disrepute.”