Jeremy Hunt, the British foreign secretary and a leading candidate to become the country’s next Prime Minister, launched a blistering attack on Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn on Monday, accusing him of fostering a climate of anti-Jewish hate.
In an exclusive interview with Jewish News, Hunt described a visit to Auschwitz in his second year as an MP as “the single most emotional day in my time in Parliament.”
“When I went to Auschwitz I rather complacently said to myself, ‘thank goodness we don’t have to worry about that kind of thing happening in the UK’ and now I find myself faced with the leader of the Labour Party who has opened the door to anti-Semitism in a way that is truly frightening.”
Asked if he agreed with fellow Conservative MP Matt Hancock’s description of Corbyn as an anti-Semite, Hunt replied: “He has turned a blind eye to anti-Semitism, and I think he has crossed the line from criticising Israel and its foreign policy – which everyone has a legitimate right to do – to criticising the Jewish people.”
The foreign secretary added that some of Corbyn’s comments, “for example about Jewish people not understanding English irony, betray some deeply-held prejudices which ought to worry people.”
On bilateral relations with Israel, Hunt said, “in the end the big battle is going to be between open and closed societies, between societies that share our democratic values and those who that don’t. In that respect, Israel is a beacon light in the most troubled and dangerous region of the world.”
Speaking as Iran announced it had enriched more uranium than permitted under the nuclear accord, the foreign secretary vowed that if he is elected Prime Minister, he would make preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons capabilities his “number one priority in the Middle East.”
Hunt is a staunch and outspoken friend of Israel and the Jewish people. He was instrumental in the decision taken by the British government earlier this year to designate the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah in its entirety, breaking with EU protocol.