Amid the ongoing UK Labour Party anti-Semitism controversy, party leader Jeremy Corbyn apologized Wednesday for “concerns and anxiety” caused by an event he hosted at the House of Commons in 2010 in which a Holocaust survivor compared Israel to the Nazis over its actions in the Gaza Strip.
“In the past, in pursuit of justice for the Palestinian people and peace in Israel/Palestine, I have on occasion appeared on platforms with people whose views I completely reject,” Corbyn said in a statement quoted by British media.
“The main speaker at this Holocaust Memorial Day meeting was a Jewish Auschwitz survivor,” he added. “Views were expressed at the meeting which I do not accept or condone.
“I apologize for the concerns and anxiety that this has caused.”
Corbyn was a relatively unknown Labour MP at the time of the talk, in which anti-Zionist Hajo Meyer also took aim at fellow Auschwitz survivor Elie Wiesel.
Corbyn’s hosting of the event was first reported by The Times, which said it was part of a UK speaking tour called “Never Again for Anyone — Auschwitz to Gaza.”
Meyer’s speech was reportedly titled “The Misuse of the Holocaust for Political Purposes.”
“Judaism in Israel has been substituted by the Holocaust religion, whose high priest is Elie Wiesel,” Meyer claimed at the event, repeatedly likening Israel to the Nazis.
Labour under Corbyn, a hard-left politician who has called Hezbollah and Hamas his “friends” and who is fighting accusations of harboring anti-Semitic sentiments, has come under intense scrutiny in the media over anti-Semitic rhetoric by party members. In 2016, an inter-parliamentary committee accused Labour of creating a “safe space for those with vile attitudes towards Jewish people.”
A series of scandals and controversies have ensnared the party, culminating with its recently released policy on anti-Semitism which has been condemned — including by members of the party – for omitting Israel-related definitions that have become standard elsewhere and for not embracing the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism.
The party also said this week that it is investigating more than 250 complaints of anti-Semitic abuse, turned over by Jewish Labour Movement, many of them appearing on social media.
Corbyn has maintained that Labour will not tolerate racist rhetoric by its members. Dozens were kicked out over anti-Semitic statements. However, the party has kept on many Labour members whom Jewish community leaders said engaged in anti-Semitic hate speech.
JTA contributed to this report.