Lord Jonathan Sacks, the former British chief rabbi, became the latest major public figure in the United Kingdom to brand Jeremy Corbyn, the far-left leader of the British Labour Party, as an “antisemite” on Tuesday, as the row over recently uncovered comments by Corbyn about “Zionists” continued unabated.
In an interview with the British political weekly The New Statesman — the full version of which will appear on Thursday — Sacks slammed Corbyn as “an antisemite” who has “given support to racists, terrorists and dealers of hate.”
The latest conflict between Corbyn and the Jewish community stems from his comments at a 2013 meeting of a pro-Palestinian group in London. The Labour leader, then still a backbench MP, claimed that British-born “Zionists” had “no sense of English irony” despite “having lived in this country for a very long time, probably all their lives.”
By way of comparison, Lord Sacks in his interview invoked one of the most infamous speeches delivered by a British politician in the post-war era, that has become, for many Britons, virtually synonymous with racism and intolerance.
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“The recently disclosed remarks by Jeremy Corbyn are the most offensive statement made by a senior British politician since Enoch Powell’s 1968 ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech,” Lord Sacks told The New Statesman. “It was divisive, hateful and like Powell’s speech it undermines the existence of an entire group of British citizens by depicting them as essentially alien.”