Jeremy Corbyn speech: Labour leader accused of comparing Israel to 'Islamic states' in antisemitism report response

A Jewish Labour MP also reportedly left the speech in tears after being accused by an audience member of 'colluding' with the media

Lizzie Dearden
Thursday 30 June 2016 11:53 BST
Jeremy Corbyn 'compares Israeli state to Isis'

Jeremy Corbyn has been accused of comparing the Israeli state to terrorist groups including Isis in a speech on combating antisemitism in the Labour Party.

The embattled Labour leader was speaking after the launch of a report by the former director of Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti.

“Modern antisemitism may not always be about overt violence and persecution, though there is too much of that even to this day. We must also be vigilant against subtler and invidious manifestations of this nasty ancient hatred and avoid slipping into its traps by accident or intent,” Mr Corbyn said.

Jeremy Corbyn delivers a speech on Labour's anti-Semitism inquiry findings at Savoy Place, London.
Jeremy Corbyn delivers a speech on Labour's anti-Semitism inquiry findings at Savoy Place, London. (PA)

“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 organisations.”

Many listeners equated Mr Corbyn’s comments with a direct comparison between the Israeli government and Isis, which calls itself the “Islamic State”.

The Afghan Taliban also styles itself as the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” and countless other Islamist terror groups are waging insurgencies to build their own states governed under a fundamentalist interpretation of Sharia law, including Boko Haram in Nigeria and al-Qaeda in Yemen.

Sam Stopp, a Labour councillor in Wembley, said Mr Corbyn had "compared Israel to Isis", writing on Twitter: "For that alone, he should resign. I am red with fury.”

Ruth Smeeth, the Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent North and Kidsgrove, who is Jewish, reportedly left the event in tears after a member of the Momentum group “accused her of colluding with the Daily Telegraph”.

When challenged over the apparent comparison to Isis, the Labour leader said “of course I’m not” drawing links between the two.

“In the report it says that you shouldn’t say to somebody just because you’re Jewish you must have an opinion on Israel, just as much as you shouldn’t say to a Muslim that you must have an opinion on Isis,” Mr Corbyn added.

Supporters said he was rightly saying Muslims and Jews should not be held responsible for groups or states claiming to represent them, and was being unfairly criticised.

A spokesperson for Mr Corbyn told The Independent: “He is explicitly stating that people should not be held responsible for the actions of states or organisations around the world on the basis of religion or ethnicity.”

The report followed controversy over a Facebook post by Naz Shah, the Labour MP for Bradford West, claims by Ken Livingstone that Adolf Hitler supporter Zionism and a wave of suspensions in the party.

Ms Chakrabarti's inquiry made 20 recommendations but she said she does not approve of lifetime bans for party membership.

The report said racial or religious stereotypes had “no place” in the Labour Party and that its leadership must introduce new sanctions for members accused of antisemitism other than suspension or expulsion.

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