Formal complaint filed with UK Labour party over Corbyn’s remarks on ‘Zionists’

Labour Against Anti-Semitism demands opposition leader’s suspension, says he should be subject to same scrutiny as all party members

Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn arrives to face the media at the Edinburgh Television Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland, Aug. 23, 2018. (Jane Barlow/PA via AP)
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn arrives to face the media at the Edinburgh Television Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland, Aug. 23, 2018. (Jane Barlow/PA via AP)

A British Labour party anti-Semitism campaign group filed a complaint Saturday against leader Jeremy Corbyn over a 2013 speech in which he said that “Zionists” in Britain don’t know history or understand English culture.

Labour Against Anti-Semitism said it lodged the formal complaint with the party against Corbyn for “anti-Semitism and for bringing the party into disrepute,” according to the Observer.

Calling for Corbyn’s immediate suspension, a spokesperson for the group told the paper the Labour leader “must be subjected to the same scrutiny and procedures as any other member.”

“It is time for the Labour party to show it is serious about tackling anti-Semitism by immediately suspending Mr Corbyn and launching a full and independent investigation into his conduct,” Euan Philipps said.

The complaint came a day after The Times of London published an editorial calling Corbyn “straightforwardly antisemitic,” before concluding that his comments should “render him ineligible for membership, let alone leadership, of a democratic party and for public office.”

Corbyn — who was already under fire over his handling of anti-Semitism within the party and several recently surfaced anti-Israel remarks he made — faced fresh criticism last week after the Daily Mail published a video of a 2013 speech in which he asserted that “Zionists” were unable to grasp “English irony” despite often having lived in Britain for years.

Corbyn told attendees of a Hamas-endorsed conference in London 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 featured several controversial speakers, including one who advocated boycotting Holocaust Memorial Day and another who blamed Israel for the 9/11 terror attacks in New York.

Corbyn’s 2013 speech was met with backlash from a number of Labour MPs and Jewish figures, with the editor of the Jewish Chronicle saying “it’s almost impossible to read this as anything other than a reference to Jews.”

But Corbyn defended his remarks, insisting that his mention of “Zionists” was not a euphemism for the Jewish people.

In a statement quoted by The Guardian on Friday, Corbyn said he had become “more careful with how I might use the term ‘Zionist’ because a once self-identifying political term has been increasingly hijacked by anti-Semites as code for Jews.”

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.

Claims of anti-Jewish prejudice within Labour have grown since Corbyn, a longtime critic of Israel, was elected leader in 2015. UK Jewish groups have accused him of failing to expel party members who openly express anti-Semitic views.

The dispute recently boiled over after the party last month proposed adopting a definition of anti-Semitism that differed from the one approved by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, a move that was met with anger from Jewish groups and the country’s chief rabbi.

In recent months, photos and videos and photos have emerged of Corbyn and other Labour officials making anti-Semitic and virulent anti-Israel comments.

UK Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn (2r) attends a 2012 conference in Doha along with several Palestinian terrorists convicted of murdering Israelis. (Screen capture: Twitter)

Last week, Israel Advocacy Movement tweeted footage of Corbyn accusing Israel of committing genocide against Palestinians during a 2014 rally, as a Hamas flag waved behind him. Corbyn infamously called the terror group “friends” prior to his election as Labour leader two years ago, a statement he has since walked back.

One of the photos published recently showed Corbyn hosting a panel featuring a senior Hamas officials in 2012, including members convicted of murdering Israelis in terror attacks.

Earlier in August, the Daily Mail published photos of Corbyn in 2014 laying a wreath at the grave of the Palestinian terrorists who murdered 11 Israeli athletes in the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Jeremy Corbyn (second from left) holding a wreath during a visit to the Martyrs of Palestine, in Tunisia, in October 2014. (Facebook page of the Palestinian embassy in Tunisia)

Corbyn initially claimed he attended the ceremony at the Cemetery of the Martyrs of Palestine, in Tunisia to commemorate the 47 Palestinians killed during an Israeli bombing raid there in 1985. But images recovered from a Palestinian Embassy archive by the paper showed Corbyn holding a wreath in front of a plaque dedicated to members of Black September.

“A wreath was indeed laid by some of those who were at the conference to those that were killed in Paris in 1992,” Corbyn later admitted, adding that he while he was present at the ceremony, he didn’t “think I was actually involved in it.”

Last week, Times of Israel editor David Horovitz detailed Corbyn’s years of activism on behalf of a Labour movement that sought to “eradicate Zionism” and replace Israel with a secular Palestinian state, and branded Corbyn “an anti-Semite and a racist.” Horovitz wrote that Labour, if it wants to root out anti-Semitism, must expel Corbyn.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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