TEL AVIV – A Likud minister close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday accused Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn of Jew-hatred amid continuing probes into the British opposition party over its failure to deal with antisemitism.
“We don’t decide for the British who to vote for, of course, but we have to state our position. I think Corbyn has proven himself, more than once or twice, to be a figure who quite hates the State of Israel and hates the Jewish people,” Ze’ev Elkin told Army Radio in an interview cited by Reuters.
“People often try to hide behind this anti-Israeli mantle and say, ‘We are not antisemitic, we’re only criticizing the State of Israel and its policy.’ And the example of what’s happening in the Labour Party under Corbyn shows the extent to which this cover is no true cover.”
Last week, the BBC aired an exposé in which four Labour officials accused Corbyn and others within the party of interfering with efforts to root out antisemitism within the party. The officials also revealed the antisemitic abuse they faced from other party members.
Corbyn and Labour denied the accusations, saying that it was an effort by whistleblowers who had “personal and political axes to grind” to give a “deliberate and malicious representation” of the party.
Parting from the Netanyahu government’s unspoken policy of not commenting on the antisemitism charges facing Corbyn and his party, Elkin and Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely have expressed their concerns since the BBC program was aired.
Regarding the documentary, Hotovely told Channel 13 news: “We certainly see this as a very grave matter.”
“There is no doubt that Labour, in Corbyn’s image, is a very big problem for Israel’s foreign relations,” she added.
Netanyahu’s office would not immediately answer inquiries from Reuters as to whether Elkin’s and Hotovely’s comments reflected official government policy.
Israel’s own Labor party, which is also in the opposition, announced last year that it was breaking ties with Corbyn on account of his antisemitism and “very public hatred” of Israel’s government.
In light of the BBC exposé, Israel’s new Labour leader Amir Peretz said he would cut relations with the whole party.
“As far as I’m concerned, I have no intention of generating contacts with (Britain’s) Labour as long as Corbyn is there. I do not intend to allow anyone from among us to have contacts of that kind,” Peretz told Army Radio.
“I think he has crossed all the red lines.”
More than 60 British Labour member in the House of Lords have taken out an advertisement accusing Jeremy Corbyn of having “failed the test of leadership,” the Guardian reported Tuesday.
The advertisement read: “The Labour party welcomes everyone* irrespective of race, creed, age, gender identity, or sexual orientation. (*except, it seems, Jews). This is your legacy, Mr Corbyn.”
The signatories told Corbyn that the party was “no longer a safe place for all members” and claimed that thousands have left the party “because of the toxic culture you have allowed to divide our movement.”
The ad came a day after Corbyn received a letter signed by more than 200 current and former Labour staffers demanding he root out the party’s “worse than ever” antisemitism or else resign.
“The party’s response has been to smear Jewish victims, and former staff, accusing them of acting in bad faith,” they wrote. “The way the Party has threatened and denigrated these whistleblowers is appalling, hypocritical and a total betrayal of Labour’s core values.”
“This has all happened on your watch. The crisis has moved beyond a question of rules and disciplinary processes, to a question of a political culture, and crucially, leadership,” they said.
“As its leader, the moral responsibility for Labour’s antisemitism crisis ultimately sits with you. Own that responsibility, or give it away to someone who will,” they said.
NEW: Full letter from 200+ present and former Labour staff calls on Jeremy Corbyn to take responsibility for antisemitism in the party, saying “institutionalised antisemitism is worse than ever” and the leadership’s response has been “shameful”. This is in addition to GMB motion. pic.twitter.com/7wzRX9wWg4
— Paul Brand (@PaulBrandITV) July 15, 2019