The Labour Party was drawn into yet another anti-Semitism scandal on Friday, after it emerged that leader Jeremy Corbyn had accused British “Zionists” of having “no sense of English irony” despite having lived in the UK “all their lives,” The Jewish Chronicle reported Friday.
In a speech at a Hamas-advertised conference in 2013, a video of which has been released, Corbyn said that “British Zionists” have no understanding of history and lack a sense of irony. Corbyn made the remark during a meeting of the Palestinian Return Centre, when talking about an earlier speech from Manuel Hassassian, the Palestinian envoy to the UK.
Corbyn described Hassassian’s speech as “incredibly powerful, passionate and effective.” He continued: “This was dutifully recorded by the thankfully silent Zionists who were in the audience on that occasion, and then came up and berated him afterwards for what he had said.
“They clearly have two problems. One is that they don’t want to study history, and secondly, having lived in this country for a very long time, probably all their lives, don’t understand English irony.”
Corbyn attended the meeting alongside Daud Abdullah, who supported a boycott of Holocaust Memorial Day, and Alison Weir, an American anti-Israel campaigner allegedly linked to White Supremacists.
Responding to the news, Labour MP Luciana Berger slammed Corbyn on Twitter, saying: “The video released today of the leader of UK Labour making inexcusable comments — defended by a party spokesman — makes me as a proud British Jew feel unwelcome in my own party. I’ve lived in Britain all my life and I don’t need any lessons in history / irony.”
Gideon Falter, chair of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, said: “Jeremy Corbyn’s xenophobic portrayal of ‘Zionists’ as foreign to Britain and recognisable by their ignorance and humourlessness is utterly shameful, even by his low standards. Falter continued: “It is precisely this euphemistic use of the word ‘Zionist’ to refer to Jews and direct smears at us which used to be the preserve of antisemites amongst the aristocracy.”
Allegations of anti-Semitism have plagued the Labour Party for months. Another Labour MP, Dame Margaret Hodge, who was born in Egypt after her parents fled Nazi Germany, told Corbyn to his face that he was “an anti-Semite and a racist.”
A spokesperson for Corbyn on Thursday dismissed the latest scandal. “Jeremy is totally opposed to all forms of antisemitism and is determined to drive it out from society. At this event, he was referring to a group of pro-Israel activists misunderstanding and then criticising the Palestinian Ambassador for a speech at a separate event about the occupation of the West Bank.”
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