Jeremy Corbyn apologises for Holocaust Day event as Labour faces fresh pressure over anti-Semitism

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer
Jeremy Corbyn has apologised for ‘appearing on platforms with people whose views I completely reject’ (Rex)

Jeremy Corbyn faces increased pressure over his handling of anti-Semitism within the Labour party as he apologised for sharing a platform with people ‘whose views I completely reject’.

The Labour leader hosted a Holocaust Memorial Day event in 2010 at which speakers reportedly compared the actions of Israel in Gaza to the Nazis.

Mr Corbyn acknowledged that he had appeared alongside people with views he did not ‘condone’ –  and apologised for the ‘concerns and anxiety’ that caused.

He said: ‘The main speaker at this Holocaust Memorial Day meeting, part of a tour entitled ‘never again – for anyone’, was a Jewish Auschwitz survivor. Views were expressed at the meeting which I do not accept or condone.

‘In the past, in pursuit of justice for the Palestinian people and peace in Israel/Palestine, I have on occasion appeared on platforms with people whose views I completely reject.

The Labour leader hosted a Holocaust Memorial Day event in 2010 where speakers compared the actions of Israel in Gaza to the Nazis (Rex)

‘I apologise for the concerns and anxiety that this has caused.’

The UK’s human rights watchdog has now been urged to investigate the Labour Party over anti-Semitism.

The Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) referred the party to the Equality and Human Rights Commission and made a complaint to Labour about Mr Corbyn’s comments.

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The CAA’s letter to the equality watchdog said: ‘We charge that the party has, through years of deliberate or reckless dereliction of its duty to enforce its own rules, created an atmosphere in which Jewish members and/or associates are discriminated against.’

The organisation also issued a fresh complaint – its third – about Mr Corbyn to Labour.

As well as the 2010 Holocaust Memorial Day event it seized on comments made by Mr Corbyn in 2012 when appearing on Press TV, the Iranian state-owned broadcaster, in which he linked a massacre of 16 Egyptian policeman to Israel.

Several Jewish groups have accused Labour of being an anti-Semitic party (Rex)

Gideon Falter, chairman of the CAA, said: ‘The evidence shows beyond all doubt that Jeremy Corbyn is an anti-Semite and the Labour Party has become institutionally anti-Semitic.

‘The problem is not one man but an entire movement which has hijacked the anti-racist Labour Party of old and corrupted it with a racist rot.’

A Labour Party spokesman said: ‘Labour is committed to rooting out anti-Semitism from our party and society. False and partisan attacks like this undermine the fight against anti-Semitism.’

An Equality and Human Rights Commission spokesman said: ‘We have received the complaint and will consider it to see what, if any, action is needed.’

The Campaign Against Antisemitism chairman described Mr Corbyn as an ‘anti-Semite’ (Rex)

The latest Labour anti-Semitism row comes in the same week a member of Labour Party’s ruling body apologised for offensive comments about Jews.

Peter Willsman called some members of the Jewish community ‘Trump fanatics’ and suggested they were ‘making up’ problems about anti-Semitism in the party.

He subsequently apologised, acknowledging the ‘offensive nature of my comments’, and has referred himself for equalities training.

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson described the NEC member as a ‘loud-mouthed bully’, while Jewish Labour Movement chairwoman Luciana Berger said the comments were ‘sickening’.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews, made up of almost 300 deputies directly elected by synagogues and community organisations, said Labour had let Mr Willsman off lightly by not taking disciplinary action against him.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said he wanted the party’s approach on anti-Semitism to be resolved soon.

He told the Independent: ‘I thought we had got to a position where we are able to move on – we’re not – we’ve got to resolve that by September.

‘The discussion is taking place I think that will enable that to happen.’