support to racists, terrorists and dealers of hate
The former chief rabbi Jonathan Sacks has called Jeremy Corbyn an antisemite, saying the Labour leader’s comment about Zionists at a 2013 conference was the most offensive statement by a senior UK politician since Enoch Powell’s “rivers of blood” speech.
Labour dismissed the comparison with Powell as “absurd and offensive”.
In an interview with the New Statesman, Sacks, who was the UK’s chief rabbi from 1991 to 2013, said Corbyn had “given support to racists, terrorists and dealers of hate who want to kill Jews and remove Israel from the map”.
He said: “Now, within living memory of the Holocaust, and while Jews are being murdered elsewhere in Europe for being Jews, we have an antisemite as the leader of the Labour party and Her Majesty’s opposition. That is why Jews feel so threatened by Mr Corbyn and those who support him.”
Sacks condemned Corbyn’s 2013 comments, which resurfaced last week, in which he said that a group of Zionists had “no sense of irony” despite “having lived in this country for a very long time”.
The remarks prompted criticism from a number of MPs. In a subsequent statement, Corbyn said he had used the word Zionist “in the accurate political sense and not as a euphemism for Jewish people”, adding that he was now more careful in how he used the term.
But Sacks told the New Statesman he was aghast at the remarks, making a parallel with Powell’s infamous 1968 speech, in which the then-Conservative shadow cabinet member was roundly condemned for inflammatory rhetoric about immigration.