Israeli Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog writes to Jeremy Corbyn about 'sickening' anti-Semitism row

Mr Corbyn has been invited to lead a delegation to visit The Holocaust memorial in Isarel

Jon Stone@joncstone
Saturday 30 April 2016 14:10
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Isaac Herzog, leader of the Israeli Labor Party
Isaac Herzog, leader of the Israeli Labor Party

The leader of the Israeli Labor Party has written to Jeremy Corbyn to say he is “appalled and outraged” at examples of alleged anti-Semitism in Labour.

Isaac Herzog, whose party is in the same international federation of socialist parties as Labour, invited Mr Corbyn to visit Israel’s holocaust museum to help Labour “better understand the scourge of anti-Semitism”.

Labour has been rocked over the last week by the suspension of MP Naz Shah, and then Ken Livingstone, a Labour national executive committee member and former MP.

Ms Shah was revealed to have endorsed a suggestion about relocating Israel to North America before she had become an MP, and Mr Livingstone himself raised Adolf Hitler while defending her in broadcast interviews.

“I would like to take this opportunity, in the week leading up to Holocaust Memorial Day in Israel, to invite you to bring a delegation from the British Labour Party to Israel’s national Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem”, Mr Herzog wrote.

“By doing this, perhaps we can ensure that the anti-Semitism expressed in recent days is not the example to set to [sic] British young generation, but rather one of tolerance and acceptance of all people, regardless of faith.”

Mr Herzog added: “As someone whose father served in the British army and risked his life fighting against Hitler and the Nazis, 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 and the 21st century.”

Such a visit would likely be a test for Mr Corbyn, who has long been a vocal critic of Israel’s policies towards Palestinians.

The Israeli Labor Party leader said the reports about comments by Ms Shah “sicken[ed] all those of moral conscience to the core”.

Over the last week Mr Herzog himself has been subject to criticism after he was filmed telling activists “we need to stop giving the impression that we are ‘Arab-lovers’”.

He was lambasted for the statement from across the political spectrum, with some MPs branding the comments “racist” and calling for his resignation.

The letter is not the first time the Israeli Labor Party has intervened in the UK since Mr Corbyn’s election.

In February Mr Herzog distanced himself from Mr Corbyn, describing him as “naïve” and said he did not understand the reality of the Middle East.

In September Michal Biran, an MP from the party, told a fringe event at party conference that Mr Corbyn’s election would be a “disaster” for Israel.

Labour today announced it had launched an independent inquiry into how to tackle antisemitism in the party.

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