Jeremy Corbyn forced to backtrack over apparent support for antisemitic mural

Painting depicted a group of businessmen and bankers playing a Monopoly-style board game, balanced on the backs of people 

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Friday 23 March 2018 18:51 GMT
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Jeremy Corbyn had originally criticised 'the removal of public art on grounds of freedom of speech'
Jeremy Corbyn had originally criticised 'the removal of public art on grounds of freedom of speech'

Jeremy Corbyn has been forced to backtrack over his apparent support for an antisemitic mural, after a protest from one of his MPs.

Luciana Berger publicly demanded an explanation after being alerted to a Facebook post by the Labour leader opposing the graphic’s removal.

Painted in London’s East End in 2012, by a graffiti artist known as Mear One, it depicted a group of businessmen and bankers playing a Monopoly-style board game balanced on the backs of people.

The mural was painted on the end wall of a private property, but was removed by local authorities after complaints from residents.

In his post responding to its imminent destruction, Mr Corbyn said: “Why? You are in good company. Rockerfeller (sic) destroyed Diego Viera's mural because it includes a picture of Lenin.”

His office was forced to issue a statement after Ms Berger, a Liverpool MP, posted a screengrab on Twitter, saying: “I asked the Leader’s Office for an explanation about this Facebook post first thing this morning. I’m still waiting for a response.”

Later, a spokesperson for Mr Corbyn said: “In 2012, Jeremy was responding to concerns about the removal of public art on grounds of freedom of speech.

“However, the mural was offensive, used antisemitic imagery, which has no place in our society, and it is right that it was removed.”

However, the statement was immediately criticised by Ms Berger as “wholly inadequate”. She added: “It fails to understand on any level the hurt and anguish felt about Antisemitism. I shall be raising this further.”

In a statement, the Jewish Labour Movement said: “Antisemitic art is antisemitism. It cannot be defended under any circumstances.”

The artist himself denied being anti-Semitic, saying the mural is about “class and privilege” and contains a group of bankers “made up of Jewish and white Anglos”.

In 2012, in protest at the removal, he posted: “Tomorrow they want to buff my mural. Freedom of expression. London calling. Public art.”

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