One of Britain’s most senior Jewish leaders, the former chief rabbi of the UK Jonathan Sacks, has compared Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to Enoch Powell over remarks made about ‘Zionists’ in 2013.
Rabbi Sacks, who was the chief rabbi for 12 years until 2013, told the New Statesman: “It was divisive, hateful and like Powell’s ‘rivers of blood’ speech it undermines the existence of an entire group of British citizens by depicting them as essentially alien.”
He was referring to comments made by Mr Corbyn in 2013 when he said regarding certain Britain ‘Zionists’: “They clearly have two problems. One is they don’t want to study history and, secondly, having lived in this country for a very long time, probably all their lives, they don’t understand English irony either.”
Mr Sacks’ interview is his first comments on the anti-Semitism crisis this summer that has threatened to engulf the Labour leadership and lead to recriminations for Jeremy Corbyn and his allies.
He added: “We can only judge Jeremy Corbyn by his words and his actions. He has given support to racists, terrorists and dealers of hate who want to kill Jews and remove from Israel from the map. When he implies that, however long they have lived here, Jews are not fully British, he is using the language of classic pre-war European anti-Semitism.
“Now, within living memory of the Holocaust, and while Jews are being murdered elsewhere in Europe for being Jews, we have an anti-Semite 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.
“For more than three and a half centuries, the Jews of Britain have contributed to every aspect of national life. We know our history better than Mr Corbyn, and we have learned that the hate that begins with Jews never ends with Jews. Mr Corbyn’s embrace of hate defiles our politics and demeans the country we love.”