Europe

Corbyn Caught on Tape Questioning Israel’s Right to Exist on Iranian TV

British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been caught on tape saying that the BBC “has a bias towards saying that… Israel has a right to exist,” The Times of Israel reported Wednesday, as the party faces fresh allegations of anti-Semitism.

Corbyn made the comments in 2011 in an interview with Press TV, a channel hosted by the Iranian regime. “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 said in the 36-second clip.

The Labour leader charged that Britain’s public broadcaster was forced into favorable coverage of Israel by the highest ranks within the Israeli government. “There seems to be a great deal of pressure on the BBC from the Israeli government, from the Israeli embassy, and they are very assertive towards all journalists and toward the BBC itself. They challenge every single thing on reporting the whole time,” he charged.

Corbyn’s comments appear to be in violation of the party’s new code on anti-Semitism, which passed last month, and explicitly states that “The Party is clear that the Jewish people have the same right to self-determination as any other people. To deny that right is to treat the Jewish people unequally and is therefore a form of antisemitism.”

A spokesman for Corbyn, however, defended the Labour leader’s comments and said his analysis accurately reflects the coverage of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

“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,” the spokesperson said. “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.”

At the same time, “the Israeli government is well known to run an effective and highly professional media operation,” the spokesperson added.

Jewish activists were quick to denounce to the newly surfaced tape.

Jennifer Gerber, head of Labour Friends of Israel, slammed the “deplorable remarks,” saying, “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 antisemitism?”

At the heart of Labour’s anti-Semitism crisis is the party’s refusal to adopt in full the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism – a definition adopted by 31 countries in the world, including the British government. Labour’s own code of conduct leaves out four of the 11 examples included in the definition, which address discrimination of Israel and questioning the loyalty of Jews who support Israel.

[Photo: PressTV / YouTube ]