Labour Apologizes After Corbyn Seems to Compare Israel, Radical Islamic Groups

U.K. opposition party reaches out to Israeli envoy in London to 'unequivocally' apologize for 'unacceptable remarks,' Israel says.

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Britain's Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn wipes his eye at the launch of 'Labour In for Britain', London, U.K., May 10, 2016.
Britain's Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn wipes his eye at the launch of 'Labour In for Britain', London, U.K., May 10, 2016.Credit: Kirsty Wigglesworth, AP

Israeli officials say the Labour Party has apologized to the Israeli ambassador after party leader Jeremy Corbyn seemed to compare Israel to the Islamic State group.

Corbyn spoke at the launch of a report examining anti-Semitism inside the U.K. Labour Party and said Jews were "no more responsible for the actions of Israel" than Muslims were responsible for Islamic State extremists.

A Jewish Labour lawmaker, Ruth Smeeth, fled the event in tears after he spoke, the Jewish Chronicle said, and Britain's chief rabbi called the remarks offensive. Corbyn said later he was not trying to equate the Israeli government and ISIS.

Israeli Embassy spokesman Yiftah Curiel said Friday that Labour foreign policy adviser Emily Thornberry had apologized for the remarks. "Ambassador Mark Regev welcomed Emily Thornberry's unequivocal apology following Jeremy Corbyn's unacceptable remarks," he said.

Israeli lawmakers from across the political spectrum severely criticized Corbyn for the drawing the odd parallel.

The head of Israel's opposition Labor Party, MK Isaac Herzog, called it a "shocking comparison," and also termed it a "betrayal of the values which the international labor movement represents."

"Corbyn represents a consistent stance of hatred for Israel," Herzog said.

Former finance minister Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid urged Israel’s Labor to sever all ties with the British party until Corbyn is ousted.

“It is unacceptable that on such a difficult day for Israel in which an innocent young girl is murdered in a terrorist attack for being Jewish, the head of the British opposition will compare Israel to ISIS during a discussion about a report on anti-Semitism.”

“It’s a terrible comparison that shows ignorance, and genuine anti-Semitism,“ Lapid said.

Likud MK Avi Dichter, chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said “Mr. Corbyn has said in the past that he sees Hamas and Hezbollah as ‘friends.’ Only someone so linked to these terrorist groups could say such an anti-Semitic thing. Corbyn has learned nothing from British history, nor from the history of Israel or that of the Jewish people.”

Corbyn set up the independent inquiry after several Labour Party officials were suspended for making anti-Semitic comments.