British Labour head Jeremy Corbyn declined invitation to Yad Vashem


(JTA) — British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn turned down an invitation by Israel’s opposition chief to visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, a British newspaper reported.

Corbyn responded to the invitation, made in the spring by Isaac Herzog, the head of Israel’s Zionist Union political list, several weeks later, saying his schedule was full and that he would send either Tom Watson, the deputy party leader, or Iain McNicol, the party general secretary, in November, according to the Guardian.

The invitation from Herzog came in April after former London Mayor Ken Livingstone said Nazi leader Adolf Hitler supported Zionism. Already suspended from Labour for the remarks, he doubled down on them last week as he awaited a decision on whether he will be permanently expelled from the party.

The chairman of Labour Friends of Israel, British lawmaker Joan Ryan, told the Guardian that visiting Israel should have been a “priority” for Corbyn.

“I’m very disappointed Jeremy turned down the invitation to visit Israel from our sister party. Given the deep concerns about his commitment to a two-state solution, his labeling of terror groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah as ‘friends’, and the allegations of anti-Semitism which have occurred on his watch, such a visit should have been a priority,” Ryan said.

Labour and Corbyn have been accused of doing too little to curb rampant anti-Semitism among party members. Corbyn, who has called Hezbollah and Hamas “friends,” has also been accused of fostering an atmosphere of anti-Semitism in the party.

A government inquiry into anti-Semitism was launched in April to determine whether anti-Jewish prejudice has increased in the United Kingdom and to assess the particular dangers facing Jews. In June, the inquiry determined that the party had not been  with anti-Semitism.

Also over the weekend, Labour suspended  prominent Jewish party donor Michael Foster, who compared Corbyn’s supporters to Nazi storm troopers last month in an Op-Ed in the London-based Daily Mail. In the last election, Foster and his family contributed more than $500,000 to the party.

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