British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn received the approval Friday of a former wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and an ex-leader of the far-right British National Party for stating that “Zionists” don’t understand English irony.
Meanwhile, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer John McDonnell defended Corbyn, telling the BBC in Friday that “whatever Jeremy has said throughout the years has always been about how to secure peace, particularly in the Middle East.”
He continued, “I think this has all been taken out of context.”
However, Jewish Labour MP Luciana Berger said that Corbyn’s words were “inexcusable” and made her feel “unwelcome” in the party. “I’ve lived in Britain all my life and I don’t need any lessons in history/irony,” she tweeted.
Corbyn, who has been battling accusations of anti-Semitism, had his words endorsed by Nick Griffin, former leader of the far-right British National Party.
“Go Jezza! I wonder how many Labour activists the hysterical #Zionist media campaign against Corbyn is re-pilling [sic]?” tweeted Griffin.
Corbyn also received backing from former KKK grand wizard David Duke, who quoted a tweet from the Labour Party leader calling for the destruction of “the stranglehold of elite power and billionaire domination over large parts of our media.”
Duke tweeted, “He’s right, you know” in response to Corbyn’s statement.
The praise from the far-right figures came after the publication of a clip by the Daily Mail of a 2013 speech at a London conference in which Corbyn told attendees 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.
Ghada Karmi, 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 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 Labour. “The stain and shame of anti-Semitism has coursed through Her Majesty’s Opposition since Jeremy Corbyn became leader in 2015.”
On Thursday the Israel Advocacy Movement tweeted footage of Corbyn accusing Israel of genocide during a 2014 rally, as a Hamas flag waved behind him.
“This is an occupation, this is a genocidal attack on Palestinian people,” Corbyn shouted to protesters near the Israeli embassy in London, during that year’s war between Israel and Hamas terrorists in Gaza.
Corbyn infamously called the terror group “friends” prior to his election as Labour leader, a statement he later walked back.
Jeremy Corbyn stands in front of a Hamas flag at an anti-Israel rally and makes the outrageous claim of an Israeli genocide against Palestinians. pic.twitter.com/psXab3AWAi
— Israel Advocacy Movement (@israel_advocacy) August 23, 2018
Labour officials told the Daily Mail Corbyn was not responsible for flags waived by others, and said he was speaking of the “asymmetrical nature” of the conflict.
Earlier this week it emerged that Corbyn’s longtime secretary had urged Labour 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’s 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.”
In 2011, Corbyn was among a group of predominantly Labour politicians who proposed changing the name of Holocaust Memorial Day to “Genocide Memorial Day – Never Again For Anyone,” to reflect that “Nazism targeted not only Jewish [people].”
He also came under fire earlier this year when it emerged that he had defended an anti-Semitic mural painted in London. Corbyn later said he regretted his support for the artist.