(JTA) — The leader of Britain’s Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, drew parallels between Israel and the Islamic State terrorist group in a speech condemning anti-Semitism.
“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,” Corbyn, who has called Hezbollah and Hamas his friends, said Thursday in London, The Sun daily newspaper reported.
Stewart Martin Wood, a Labour lawmaker in the House of Lords, wrote on Twitter that, “Comparing Jews’ relationship to Israel with Muslims’ relationship to ISIS bizarrely insults both Jews and Muslims,” adding: “I hope Corbyn apologises as soon as possible.” Tom Holland, a historian and well-known author, on Twitter mocked Corbyn’s statement, suggesting his mention of the terrorist group also known as ISIS undermines his own message. “Good to see Corbyn decisively rebutting the charge of anti-Semitism by comparing Israel to Islamic State,” Holland wrote.
Corbyn said this during a speech about a newly-published report on anti-Semitism within the Labour Party. Compiled by lawmaker Shami Chakrabarti, it was written following dozens of incidents of vitriolic speech against Israel within Labour since Corbyn’s election to head the party last year. Corbyn on Tuesday lost a no-confidence vote within Labour over his perceived failure to lobby against a June 23 vote supporting a British exit out of the European Union in a national referendum. But he said he will not resign.
The report said the party is not overrun by anti-Semitism or other forms of racism but there is an “occasionally toxic atmosphere.” Its 20 recommendations did not include permanently banning offenders.
British Jewish groups, including the Board of Deputies of British Jews, have said Labour has failed to address its anti-Semitism problem under Corbyn. They cited recent statements by Labour members, including senior ones such as former London Mayor Ken Livingstone, who in May said Adolf Hitler was a Zionist. He has been suspended from the party.
“Excuse for, denial, approval or minimization of the Holocaust and attempts to blur responsibility for it have no place in the Labour Party,” the report’s recommendations section reads. “Epithets such as ‘Paki, ‘Zio’ and others should have no place in Labour Party discourse going forward,” it also says.
Some British Jews said the Chakrabarti report was insufficient.
“We regret that the inquiry has failed to recognize the dangerous, systematic demonization of Israel by those Labour Party members who cross the line into anti-Semitism and attempt to disguise it as anti-Zionism,” James Sorene, CEO of the British Israel Communications and Research Center, or BICOM, said in a statement Thursday.
“The report is vague and indecisive on action against members who indulge in anti-Semitic anti-Zionism, and dismisses a culture of systematic demonization of Israel as a ‘series of unhappy incidents’,” she added.
British Jewry’s main watchdog on anti-Semitism, the Community Security Trust, also expressed ambivalence about the report in a statement it published jointly with the Jewish Leadership Council.
“The final verdict on the Chakrabarti Report will depend upon its implementation. We welcome the rejection of the use of the term Zio, the condemnation of manipulating the Holocaust and of the stereotyping of Jews. We are concerned that ruling out lifetime bans and automatic suspensions could send the wrong signal to the community,” the statement read.