British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn condemned allegations by a veteran party lawmaker who is Jewish that “Jewish money” dictates government policy on Israel.
Corbyn on Tuesday called the comments made a week ago by Gerald Kaufman “unacceptable and deeply regrettable,” the London-based Jewish Chronicle reported.
“Such remarks are damaging to community relations, and also do nothing to benefit the Palestinian cause,” Corbyn said in a statement. “I have always implacably opposed all forms of racism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia and will continue to do so.”
Corbyn said that at his request, the chief whip has met with Kaufman “and expressed my deep concern.”
At a meeting of a pro-Palestinian organization on Oct. 27, Kaufman reportedly said: “It’s Jewish money, Jewish donations, to the Conservative Party as in the general election in May, support from The Jewish Chronicle, all of those things. There is now a big group of conservative members of Parliament, who are pro-Israel whatever government does and they are not interested in what Israel, in what the Israeli government does.”
Kaufman reportedly began his speech by claiming that half of the recent stabbings in Israel were “fabricated.”
British Jewish groups, including the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jewish Leadership Council, the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and the Community Security Trust praised Corbyn’s condemnation and called for the party to take disciplinary action against Kaufman.
Kaufman is the longest-serving lawmaker in the House of Commons. In 2011, he apologized for remarking “Here we are, the Jews again” during a debate about Israel with another Jewish lawmaker who disagreed with his attitude toward Israel.
Corbyn has been accused of being anti-Israel because of comments he’s made, including describing the terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah as “friends.”
In September, Corbyn appointed controversial figure Seumas Milne as his director of strategy & communications, the Telegraph reported.
Milne has in the past praised the “resistance” against British troops in Iraq and has justified terror attacks against Israel.
Milne, a regular contributor to the Guardian newspaper, wrote in a 2004 article that Iraqi terrorists were the country’s true liberators and called their attacks a “resistance war.”
During an anti-Israel rally in 2014, Milne said Israel had no right to defend itself from Gaza terrorism, claiming the state continued to occupy the Palestinian territory.
“It isn’t terrorism to fight back,” he said of attacks from Hamas against Israel. “The terrorism is the killing of citizens by Israel on an industrial scale.”
— Seumas Milne (@SeumasMilne) October 20, 2015
Following the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, he wrote that the US had brought the tragedy upon itself through its actions in the Middle East.
Corbyn himself has also been criticized for claiming that it was a “tragedy” that bin Laden had been killed before he could stand trial for the 2001 attacks.
The appointment of Milne is unlikely to help Corbyn’s efforts to assure British Jews that he is not anti-Israeli.
Corbyn recently attended a Labour Friends of Israel dinner, where he was criticized for failing to name the Jewish state throughout address.
He recently defended an Anglican minister who posted anti-Semitic conspiracy theories online. Corbyn also has publicly endorsed a blanket arms embargo on Israel and the boycott of Israeli universities involved in weapons research.