After he compared Israel to the Islamic State, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn came under fire for his offensive remark. The Labour Party has since apologized.
Israeli officials say the Labour Party has apologized to the Israeli ambassador after comments made by party leader Jeremy Corbyn.
The UK’s main opposition party leader said Thursday that “Our Jewish friends are no more responsible for the actions of Israel or the (Benjamin) Netanyahu government than our Muslim friends are for those of various self-styled Islamic states or organizations.”
Corbyn spoke at the launch of a report examining anti-Semitism inside the opposition Labour Party.
He said Jews were “no more responsible for the actions of Israel” than Muslims were responsible for Islamic State extremists.
Israeli Embassy spokesman Yiftah Curiel said Friday that Labour foreign policy adviser Emily Thornberry had apologized for the remarks.
“Ambassador Mark Regev welcomed Emily Thornberry’s unequivocal apology following Jeremy Corbyn’s unacceptable remarks,” he said.
UK Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis called the comments “offensive” and counterproductive.
“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,” said Mirvis.
The party leader later denied he was comparing the state of Israel to the Islamic State terrorists.
Corbyn criticized for comparing Israel to Islamic State
Corbyn was harshly criticized for comments made Thursday during the release of an independent inquiry into anti-Semitism in the party ranks.
Corbyn had set up the independent inquiry after several party members were suspended for making anti-Semitic comments before Britain’s general election in May.
The inquiry carried out by former Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti found that the Labour Party “is not overrun by anti-Semitism, Islamophobia or other forms of racism.”
It did find “an occasionally toxic atmosphere is in danger of shutting down free speech within the party” and called on Labour Party members to refrain from using Nazi imagery and metaphors when discussing current events in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.
She also said there’s no place in the Labour Party for denying or minimizing the impact of the Holocaust.
Corbyn’s reaction seemed to generate more controversy, however.
Labour Party lawmaker Ruth Smeeth said the party “cannot be a safe space” for British Jews after Corbyn did nothing while she was verbally abused with anti-Semitic slurs by one of his supporters at the event.
“I call on Jeremy Corbyn to resign immediately and make way for someone with the backbone to confront racism and anti-Semitism in our party and in the country,” she said.
Corbyn already faces strong pressure to step down as party leader after losing a no confidence vote earlier this week and being on the losing side of Britain’s referendum on EU membership.