The Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism

Jeremy Corbyn said British ‘Zionists’ have ‘no sense of English irony despite having lived here all their lives’ and ‘need a lesson’, while giving speech alongside Islamic extremists at a conference publicised by Hamas’ military wing

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The remarks were made in 2013, when Corbyn was giving a speech alongside prominent British extremists, at a London conference promoted by the propaganda website of terror group Hamas.

The Labour leader said: ‘[British Zionists] 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.’

He added: ‘They needed two lessons, which we could perhaps help them with.’

Recalling a disagreement between some ‘Zionists’ and the Palestinian representative, Manuel Hassassian, following a speech by Hassassian in Parliament, Corbyn said:

‘[Hassassian’s speech] was dutifully recorded by the thankfully silent Zionists who were in the audience on that occasion, and then came up and berated him afterwards for what he’d said.’

Stephen Pollard, editor of the Jewish Chronicle, said: ‘This shows the reality of what Jeremy Corbyn thinks of Jews, somehow a breed apart from “normal” English people.’ 

Pollard added that he believed the Labour leader ‘used the word “Zionist” obviously to mean “Jews”.’

Jonathan Sacerdoti, who was a founding trustee of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, and who is now an anti-racism campaigner, said: ‘The idea that British Jews somehow haven’t absorbed British values is outrageous.

‘To doubt our Britishness because we disagree with your controversial views on Palestine, when you are the one fraternising with extremists, is deeply anti-Semitic. British Jews are right to be scared.’

The Labour leader made the comments at a conference at Friends House in Euston. The event was advertised online by Hamas’ Al-Qassam Brigades, which is designated a terrorist group by Britain, the EU, the United States and other countries.

In one of the speeches, made by 9/11 conspiracy theorist Alan Hart, ‘Zionism’ was described as a ‘cancer at the heart of international affairs’. It was also called a ‘monster’ and compared to Nazi Germany.

The programme of speakers included a range of anti-Semites, homophobes and conspiracy theorists.

Several were connected to Hamas. One called for attacks on the Royal Navy in the past, and led a boycott of Holocaust Memorial Day.

In addition, a number have been formerly associated with the Labour leader, or supported by him.

One listed speaker was Ibrahim Hewitt, who wrote a pamphlet in 1994 branding homosexuality a ‘great sin’ comparable to paedophilia and incest, which should be ‘severely punished’. The pamphlet was most recently reprinted in 2004.

Speaking at a pro-Palestinian event in East London in February 2013, Corbyn called him a ‘very good friend’.

Another speaker, Reverend Stephen Sizer, was later banned from social media after suggesting that Israel was behind the 9/11 attack on the twin towers.

Corbyn wrote a letter defending him, saying he was ‘under attack’ by a pro-Israeli smear campaign.