UK’s Labour leader embroiled in new ‘anti-Semitism’ row

UK’s Labour leader embroiled in new ‘anti-Semitism’ row
2 min read
01 July, 2016
Jeremy Corbyn - the embattled leader of the British Labour Party - has been accused of anti-Semitism after being misquoted by the UK press on Thursday.
Jeremy Corbyn was misquoted in the press [Getty]

British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn is facing a new media firestorm, after a number of UK newspapers accused him of comparing Israel to the Islamic State group.

The Labour leader was speaking at the launch of an independent report into allegations of anti-Semitism within his party, when he made the comments. They were later misquoted by The Guardian, reports said.

"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," said Corbyn in a prepared speech at the launch of the much-anticipated report.

However, The Guardian - which has called on Corbyn to resign following a post-Brexit revolt by Labour MPs - ran the headline "Jeremy Corbyn appears to compare Israel with Islamic State".

In the article, Corbyn is misquoted as having said "Islamic State" when in fact he talked about "self-styled Islamic states or organisations".

The newspaper later corrected the quote after protests by Corbyn supporters on social media. However, the incident has already overshadowed the independent inquiry that cleared Labour of anti-Semitism.

The author of the report - renowned lawyer and human rights campaigner Shami Chakrabarti - later defended the Labour leader in a radio interview and criticised the "things that have been spun in the media".

Chakrabarti said the incident has "cast a shadow over two months' really hard, open-hearted work".

"I read the leader's speech five minutes before we went into the main room... I listened very carefully to what he said. He reflected my report," she told LBC Radio.

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said: "The comments by the leader of the Labour party at the launch, however they were intended, are themselves offensive, and rather than rebuilding trust among the Jewish community, are likely to cause even greater concern."

Labour commissioned the report in response to multiple allegations of anti-Semitism among its members.

In the most high-profile case, former London mayor Ken Livingstone was suspended from the party after saying that Adolf Hitler "was supporting Zionism" before he "went mad and ended up killing six million Jews".

The comments by the Labour leader follows a mass rebellion against him by party MPs. Corbyn has come under increasing pressure to resign, with many saying he did not canvass hard enough in the EU referendum for the Remain campaign.