Rabbi Jonathan Sacks calls Corbyn an anti-Semite

Former British Chief Rabbi says British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn gave "most offensive" speech since Enoch Powell.

Gary Willig ,

Former UK Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks
Former UK Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks
Yoni Kempinski

Former British Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks condemned UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as an anti-Semite Tuesday.

Rabbi Sacks accused Corbyn of having "given support to racists, terrorists and dealers of hate who want to kill Jews and remove from Israel from the map” in an interview with the New Statesman.

He said that Corbyn's 2013 speech in which he suggested that Zionists are not true Britons "the most offensive statement made by a senior British politician since Enoch Powell’s 1968 ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech."

“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,” Corbyn said in a clip of the speech published by the Daily Mail.

Rabbi Sacks called the speech "divisive, hateful and like Powell’s speech it undermines the existence of an entire group of British citizens by depicting them as essentially alien."

“We can only judge Jeremy Corbyn by his words and his actions," he added. "When he implies that, however long they have lived here, Jews are not fully British, he is using the language of classic pre-war European anti-Semitism. When challenged with such facts, the evidence for which is before our eyes, first he denies, then he equivocates, then he obfuscates. This is low, dishonest and dangerous. He has legitimized the public expression of hate, and where he leads, others will follow."

“Now, within living memory of the Holocaust, and while Jews are being murdered elsewhere in Europe for being Jews, we have an anti-Semite as the leader of the Labour Party and her majesty’s opposition. That is why Jews feel so threatened by Mr Corbyn and those who support him.

“For more than three and a half centuries, the Jews of Britain have contributed to every aspect of national life. We know our history better than Mr Corbyn, and we have learned that the hate that begins with Jews never ends with Jews. Mr Corbyn’s embrace of hate defiles our politics and demeans the country we love.”

A Labour Party spokesperson responded to Rabbi Sacks by saying: "this comparison with the race-baiting Enoch Powell is absurd and offensive.

“Jeremy Corbyn described a particular group of pro-Israel activists as Zionists, in the accurate political sense – not as a synonym or code for Jewish people.

“Jeremy Corbyn is determined to tackle antisemitism both within the Labour Party and in wider society, and the Labour Party is committed to rebuilding trust with the Jewish community,” the spokesperson said.

A series of controversies in recent weeks that have plagued the Labour leader, who has, in the past, called Hamas and Hezbollah his “friends.”

Following the uproar over his 2013 speech, Corbyn issued a statement on Friday, quoted by the Guardian, in which he claimed that he had used the term Zionist “in the accurate political sense and not as a euphemism for Jewish people.”

“I am now 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,” he added.

In recent years, dozens of Labour members have been suspended over anti-Semitic statements, and the party has been criticized for its failure to deal with the anti-Semitism in its ranks.

On Saturday, the Daily Mail reported that Jewish delegates to the upcoming British Labour Party conference will be given bodyguards over fears for their safety from Corbyn supporters.

The protection will also be offered to Jewish Labour Party lawmakers.

The Daily Mail quoted an unnamed source as saying that “CST are reporting back with a full assessment of the security requirements. There is a real concern about safety.”

Last month, Britain’s three Jewish newspapers united in publishing a front-page editorial warning of the “existential” threat to British Jewry that a government led by Jeremy Corbyn would pose.