London (Reuters) – Britain's former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has declared Labor Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn an anti-Semite, stating that Zionism's utterances five years ago have been the most offensive by a senior British politician for half a century.
FILE PHOTO: British Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is joining a housing policy in London on April 1
Labor has been fighting for months against anti-Semitism apologizing for what he has termed "pockets" of anti-Semitism in his party.
Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom from 1991 to 2013, accused Corbyn of providing "assistance to racists, terrorists and hate dealers who want to kill Jews and remove Israel from the map".
He said Corbyn portrayed a group of British citizens as "essentially alien" when last week it became known that in 2013 British Zionists "did not understand English irony", even though they "lived in this country for a long time".
"When he suggests that Jews, even if they have lived here for a long time, are not completely British, he uses the language of classical European anti-Semitism before the war," said Sacks of the New Statesman polity magazines.
"Now, in remembrance of the Holocaust and while Jews in Europe are being murdered as Jews, we have an anti-Semite leader of the Labor Party and Her Majesty's Opposition. Therefore, Jews feel so much threatened by Mr. Corbyn and his supporters.
Labor said in a statement that there was no room for anti-Semitism in their party and that they were obliged to restore trust in the Jewish community.
Some opinion polls are leading Labor with the Conservatives of Prime Minister Theresa May or at the same time, meaning that he is a potential British leader, although the next election will not be due until 2022.
Sacks compares Corbyn's comments to the notorious "Rivers of blood" speech by Enoch Powell in 1968, in which the then conservative Shadow Cabinet member faced the dangers his speech is widely regarded as one of the dividing lines of a modern British politician.
Labor rejected the comparison with Powell as "absurd and offensive."
Since Corbyn in 2015, after decades he he had spent on the left edge of the party, unexpectedly became a Labor leader, he had again and again Close your eyes to the anti-Semitic comments in the party and the groups it supports.
Corbyn responded to protests by meeting with leaders of the Jewish community and encouraging Jewish people to be welcome in the party.
Speaking in 2013 about a meeting convened by the Palestinian Return Center, Corbyn spoke about the importance of history and how necessary it was for people to understand the origins of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
He said the Zionists have "two problems" – first, that they do not study history and, secondly, they do not understand English irony.
Following the arrival of footage, Labor claimed that Corbyn referred to a "group of pro-Israel activists" and did not pick out the Jews as a whole.
Reporting by Andrew MacAskill; Editing by Mark Heinrich