(JTA) — Video footage from 2013 has surfaced of British Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is battling allegations of anti-Semitism, implying that Zionists were unable to understand British ways of thinking despite growing up in the country.
In a clip of Corbyn’s speech published by The Daily Mail, Corbyn told attendees at a London conference that “Zionists … 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. They needed two lessons, which we could perhaps help them with.”
The conference, which was promoted on the Hamas terror organization’s English language website, featured several controversial speakers, including one who had advocated boycotting Holocaust Memorial Day and another who blamed Israel for the 9/11 attacks.
Garda Kharmi, who also addressed the conference, was quoted by the Daily Mail as having said in a 2017 lecture that “the Jews were not wanted in Europe” and that they were “an unpopular, unloved people who were off-loaded into the [Middle East].”
Stephen Pollard, the editor of London’s Jewish Chronicle newspaper and a staunch Corbyn critic, tweeted that Corbyn “doubtless thinks he’s using the antisemite’s ‘get out of jail free card’ by saying Zionist rather than Jew. But it’s almost impossible to read this as anything other than a reference to Jews.
He also said: “Read this with Jew, rather than Zionist.”
Last month, Britain’s three Jewish newspapers, including the Chronicle, united in publishing a front-page editorial warning of the “existential” threat to British Jewry that a government led by Jeremy Corbyn would pose.
“We do so because the party that was, until recently, the natural home for our community has seen its values and integrity eroded by Corbynite contempt for Jews and Israel,” the editorials said, referring to the Labour Party. “The stain and shame of anti-Semitism has coursed through Her Majesty’s Opposition since Jeremy Corbyn became leader in 2015.”
This rhetoric was echoed by Marie van der Zyl, the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, on Tuesday when she told Israel’s i24News that “it’s like Jeremy Corbyn has declared war on the Jews.”
“The idea that British Jews somehow haven’t absorbed British values is outrageous,” Jonathan Sacerdoti, an anti-racism activist, told The Daily Mail in response to Corbyn’s comments.
“To doubt our Britishness because we disagree with your controversial views on Palestine, when you are the one fraternising with extremists, is deeply anti-Semitic. British Jews are right to be scared.”
Earlier this week it emerged that Corbyn’s longtime secretary had urged Labor supporters to oppose candidates who appeared in the Jewish media. In a pamphlet published by the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign in 2010, Nicolette Petersen recommended that Labour supporters “read the Jewish Chronicle online and look at websites that will show you who not to vote for,” asserting that it was better to divert support from Labour than to support anyone considering himself a “friend of Israel,” according to The Sun on Monday.
The incident is the latest of a string of revelations detailing Corbyn’s antipathy for the Jewish state and highlights the widening gap between the British left and the country’s Jewish community.
On Tuesday, i24News reported that Corbyn had called Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni a “war criminal” during a 2010 visit to the Gaza Strip. Writing for the Morning Star, a communist newspaper, he said that “any plans by the British government to curtail the opportunity to arrest” the former Israeli foreign minister would be “seen as yet another confirmation of British duplicity in the treatment of Palestinian people.”
That revelation came a day after it emerged that Corbyn, already facing scrutiny over his contacts with various Palestinian terrorist groups, hosted a 2012 panel featuring a number of senior members of Hamas, the terrorist organization that controls Gaza.
Corbyn appeared beside several individuals who had been convicted of murder and had been freed the previous year in a prisoner swap.
Among those who appeared with Corbyn were Khaled Mashaal, who at the time was Hamas’ political chief, and Husam Badran, the erstwhile head of the group’s military wing who had overseen a series of bombings that killed dozens of Israeli civilians, including the 2001 attacks on the Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem and the Dolphinarium disco in Tel Aviv. Alongside Mashaal and Badran was Abdul Aziz Umar, who was responsible for the 2003 Cafe Hillel bombing in Jerusalem.
Corbyn said during the panel that “their contribution was fascinating and electrifying” despite the fact that the participants appeared to advocate violent attacks against Israel. Badran was filmed at the event saying that the Palestinians had been displaced by force and that “the return will only be viable through military and armed resistance and nothing else.”