Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog (pictured) on Saturday invited Jeremy Corbyn, leader of Britain’s Labour party, to visit the Yad Vashem holocaust memorial in Jerusalem amid a row over anti-semitism.
Former London mayor Ken Livingstone said on Saturday he regretted the row that has rocked Britain’s opposition Labour party, but refused to withdraw comments linking Hitler to Zionism.
Livingstone was suspended from the centre-left party on Thursday after saying Hitler initially wanted to move Jews to Israel, and “was supporting Zionism before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews”.
His comments came in defence of Labour lawmaker Naz Shah, who was suspended on Wednesday in the face of widespread criticism for sharing anti-Semitic posts on social media two years ago.
Shah shared a graphic of Israel superimposed onto the United States under the words “Solution for Israel-Palestine Conflict — Relocate Israel into United States”, adding the comment: “Problem solved.”
Herzog said he had written a letter to Corbyn.
“I have been appalled and outraged by the most recent examples of anti-Semitism by senior Labour party officials in the United Kingdom,” he wrote in the letter in English, published on his Facebook page.
Herzog said “the views expressed by Ken Livingstone, the former Mayor of London and member of Labour’s national executive, in which he claimed that Hitler ‘was supporting Zionism before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews’, were particularly horrific, and unthinkable for a British politician in the 21st century.”
He said in the week ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day in Israel he was inviting a Labour party delegation to Yad Vashem “in order to witness that the last time the Jews were forcibly ‘transported’, it was not to Israel but to their deaths.”
The Israeli Labour party leader concludes his letter by writing that while Livingstone “is surely anti-Semitic beyond hope of redemption”, he believes that many Labour activists in Britain have “a willingness to engage and better understand the scourge of anti-Semitism”.
Corbyn has announced an independent review into racism in the party as he seeks to contain the row ahead of elections for devolved assemblies in Scotland and Northern Ireland and the London mayor next week.