Corbyn told Iranian TV in 2011 BBC suffers from a pro-Israel bias

In an interview with Iran’s PressTV, Corbyn questioned Israel’s right to exist. 

By: World Israel News Staff

Another instance of hostility exhibited by Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn towards Israel was exposed on Tuesday in the form of an interview he gave with Iranian TV, in which he appears to question Israel’s right to exist.

Speaking to Iran’s PressTV in May 2011, Corbyn said he considers the BBC to be biased in favor of Israel because they are willing to say Israel has a right to exist.

Corbyn cited “pressure on the BBC” from its then-director, Mark Thompson who, Corbyn said, “seems to me to have an agenda in this respect,” as well as from “the Israeli government and the Israeli embassy.”

“They are very assertive towards all journalists and the BBC itself. They challenge every single thing on reporting the whole time,” Corbyn said, referring to the Israelis.

“I think there is a bias towards saying that Israel is a democracy in the Middle East, Israel has a right to exist, Israel has its security concerns,” he added.

Simon Johnson, chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, reacted in a tweet: “Sorry Mr Corbyn. Do you therefore think that Israel is NOT a democracy, does NOT have a right to exist and does NOT have security concerns? And that an organisation is biased if it DOES believe these things? Wow. That seems to differ somewhat from the policy of the party you lead.”

A Labour spokesperson told the Jewish Chronicle that the Israeli government was “well known to run an effective and highly professional media operation.”

“Jeremy was arguing that despite the occupation of Palestinian territory and the lack of a Palestinian state, Israeli concerns and perspectives are more likely to appear prominently in news reporting than Palestinian ones,” he attempted to explain.

“Jeremy is committed to a comprehensive peace in the Middle East based on a two-state solution – a secure Israel alongside a secure and viable state of Palestine,” he added.

The alliance says it is anti-Semitic to accuse Jewish people of being more loyal to Israel than to their home countries, an example omitted from Labour’s definition. The alliance also says it is anti-Semitic to compare contemporary Israeli policies to the policies of the Nazis, a view Labour did not endorse.

Jennifer Gerber, director of Labour Friends of Israel (LFI), said that “in these deplorable remarks, not only does Jeremy Corbyn use another appearance on Iranian state TV to engage in further wild conspiracy theories about Israel, he also questions the Jewish state’s right to exist. Is it any wonder he has resisted so hard adopting the full IHRA definition of anti-Semitism?”

She was referring to a crisis within Labour’s ranks that was spurred over a new definition of anti-Semitism, proposed by the party’s executive committee, which in large part embraces the position taken by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) but excludes several examples that the alliance cites as anti-Semitic, specifically those pertaining to Israel.

Dave Rich, head of policy at the Community Security Trust (CST), tweeted that “Corbyn made these comments to the state broadcaster of a regime whose leaders repeatedly call for the annihilation of Israel. That’s the context in which he suggests it is biased to say Israel has a right to exist.”

AP contributed to this report.