By Lea Speyer
Israeli and UK Jewish leaders expressed outrage on Thursday after the head of Britain’s Labour Party drew a parallel between the Jewish state and the bloodthirsty terror group ISIS.
During a conference announcing the results of Labour’s investigation — headed by the controversial Sami Chakrabarti — into allegations of antisemitism and racism within his party, leader Jeremy Corbyn said, “Our Jewish friends are no more responsible for the actions of Israel or the Netanyahu government than our Muslim friends are for those of various self-styled Islamic states or organizations.”
Yesh Atid Party leader Yair Lapid was the first Israeli official to issue a condemnation of Corbyn’s comparison, describing such rhetoric as intolerable, especially in the face ofThursday’s terror attack, in which a 13-year-old girl from the town of Kiryat Arba was murdered in her bed by a Palestinian terrorist.
“It is unacceptable that on such a difficult day for the state of Israel, when an innocent young girl was murdered in a terror attack by an evil terrorist just because she was a Jew, the leader of the opposition in the UK compares Israel and ISIS, made worse by being at the launch of a report on antisemitism in his own party,” Lapid said in a released statement.
“It is an infuriating comparison which is evidence of his ignorance. It is pure antisemitism. The state of Israel is governed by democratic values, morality and justice and fights every day against terror organizations which are sworn to the murder of innocents,” he continued. “I call upon the Labor Party in Israel to cut all ties with their counterpart in the UK until the leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, is replaced.”
Knesset Member Issac Herzog, head of the Israeli Labor Party, was quick to slam Corbyn on Twitter:
Britain’s former chief rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks, said in a statement that Corbyn’s remarks are yet another instance of his “demonization of the highest order,” which he called “an outrage and unacceptable.”
“That this occurred at the launch of his report into the Labour Party’s recent troubles with antisemitism shows how deep the sickness is in parts of left British politics today,” Sacks said.
Calling Israel a “democratic state with an independent judiciary, a free press and a diverse population of many cultures, religions and creeds,” Sacks said ISIS, in comparison, “is a terrorist entity whose barbarities have been condemned by all those who value our common humanity.”
“In the current political climate, when hate crimes are rising and political rhetoric is increasingly divisive, this is all the more shocking,” Sacks stated.
The Chakrabarti inquiry concluded that while there is an “occasionally toxic atmosphere” within the party, it is “not overrun by antisemitism, Islamophobia, or other forms of racism.” The investigation made 20 recommendations, but did not approve lifetime bans for party members who engage in antisemitic or racist behavior.
In his remarks supporting the inquiry’s findings, Corbyn called on Labour members to stop using Holocaust references. “Can we please leave Hitler and Nazi metaphors alone (especially in the context of Israel). Why? Because the Shoah [Holocaust] is still in people’s family experience,” he said.
During the conference, Jewish Labour MP Ruth Smeeth was verbally attacked by a member of the left-wing organization Momentum — who accused her of “colluding” with the right-wing media — immediately after Chakrabarti herself announced that any claims that Jewish people were “part of some kind of media conspiracy…is just wrong,” the Independent reported.
Smeeth, who left the event “in tears,” told the newspaper, “It is beyond belief that someone could come to the launch of a report on antisemitism in the Labour Party and espouse such vile conspiracy theories about Jewish people, which were ironically highlighted as such in Ms. Chakrabarti’s report, while the leader of my own party stood by and did absolutely nothing.”
The Labour MP called on Corbyn to resign after he failed to intervene. “Until today I had made no public comment about Jeremy’s ability to lead our party, but the fact that he failed to intervene is final proof for me that he is unfit to lead, and that a Labour Party under his stewardship cannot be a safe space for British Jews.”
On Tuesday, the Labour Party passed a non-binding no-confidence motion in Corbyn in a 172-40 vote.
(c) 2016 The Algemeiner Journal