Jeremy Corbyn compared Israel’s actions in Gaza to those of Nazi Germany at Stalingrad and Leningrad, it can be revealed.
His speech in 2010 took place six months after he hosted an event on Holocaust Memorial Day at the House of Commons that likened Israeli government policy to that of the Nazis.
The Labour leader, then a backbench MP, told a rally outside the Israeli embassy in London: “I was in Gaza three months ago. I saw . . . the psychological damage to a whole generation, who’ve been imprisoned for as long as the siege of Leningrad and Stalingrad took place.”
A Labour spokesman said: “Jeremy was not comparing the actions of Nazis and Israelis but the conditions of civilian populations in besieged cities in wartime.”
Marie van der Zyl, the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said today that Mr Corbyn should refer himself for equalities training.
The party has been criticised by Jewish leaders for failing to adopt the full text of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism in its code of conduct.
Footage also emerged yesterday of Mr Corbyn apparently praising on Iranian state TV in 2012 the release of Hamas terrorists. He asked whether there was a “serious case” against any of the more than 1,000 Palestinians freed in a prisoner swap. They had been convicted of the murder of almost 600 Israelis.
Appearing on the Press TV show Remember Palestine, Mr Corbyn referred to the released Palestinians as brothers. They were released in exchange for Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier who had been captured and held in captivity by Hamas.
Mr Corbyn said: “Well, you have to ask the question why they’re in prison in the first place and since the releases that took place after the hunger strike I met many of the brothers including the brother who has been speaking here when they came out of prison when I was in Doha earlier this year, and you just realise that this mass imprisonment of Palestinians is actually part of a much bigger political game.
“They are used as bargaining chips in political debate and political discussion, and because if there was the serious case against the individual prisoners that Israel claims there have been, then they wouldn’t win an appeal, they wouldn’t get out, they wouldn’t be released, but they are released in very large numbers.
“Corporal Shalit apparently equals the lives of a very, very large number of Palestinian people. Well I’m glad that those that were released, were released, and I hope they’re now in safe places.”
The “brother” Mr Corbyn refers to is Abdul Aziz Umar, who was given seven life sentences for aiding the preparation of a suicide vest detonated at a restaurant in Jerusalem in 2003, killing seven.
A Labour spokesman said: “In 2012 Jeremy was commenting on the prison conditions of Palestinian prisoners, including elected representatives. He was of course in no way supporting or endorsing the actions of the prisoners, but defending their rights under international law, including those held without trial under administrative detention laws inherited from British rule. He welcomed the exchange of prisoners on both sides as part of a reduction of tensions.”
Joan Ryan, the Labour MP and chairwoman of Labour Friends of Israel, demanded an investigation into Mr Corbyn’s comments. “It is beyond abhorrent that the leader of the Labour party would ever welcome the release of such depraved terrorists,” she said.
“These evil individuals were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocent Israelis, including children and survivors of the Holocaust. These terrorists did not seek peace, only death and destruction.
“I will be calling on the party to investigate this matter immediately as I believe Mr Corbyn’s actions bring the Labour party into disrepute.”
The pro-Corbyn Momentum group has withdrawn its support for Peter Willsman, a member of Labour’s ruling body who blamed Jewish “Trump fanatics” for false claims of antisemitism.
The president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews said today that Mr Corbyn should undergo equalities training and “stop hiding”.
“Where is Jeremy Corbyn?” Marie van der Zyl said. “As new and very personal revelations about Jeremy Corbyn continue to shock, he is refusing to speak to the media and is hiding behind a half-hearted ‘apology’ no doubt crafted by his spin doctors. Why are we not hearing from the man who’s supposed to be the leader himself?”
She added: “Jeremy Corbyn needs to stop hiding and make an abject apology to UK Jews in his own voice.”
Dame Margaret Hodge, the Labour MP who is facing disciplinary action for calling Mr Corbyn an antisemite and a racist following the party’s failure to fully adopt a widely backed definition of antisemitism, today accused him of putting “two fingers up” at British Jews.
She told the BBC’s Woman’s Hour: “There was a deep arrogance to start with to think that we could play with the definition that had been accepted by all the national organisations — whether the Crown Prosecution, the government and the devolved administrations — accepted by tons of other countries including some where antisemitism is an even greater problem than it is here today.
“If that’s not good enough, the way to tackle that is not to offend the Jewish community, put two fingers up to them and say, ‘I’m not going to do what you want’.”
Her fellow Labour MP Ian Austin is also facing disciplinary action after he clashed with the party chairman over the new policy.
David Miliband, the former foreign secretary, said: “The Labour Party is full of good principled people like Ian Austin. It is so important never to lose the outrage at what is being done to our party by its leadership. The hypocrisy and denialism are a threat to our whole purpose.”