Labour's Corbyn Apologizes for Hosting Holocaust Event That Compared Israel to Nazis

Survivor who attended the 'Auschwitz to Gaza' talk in 2010 said at the time that Corbyn pointed out protesters to the police and helped have them removed

An attendee wears a mask in the likeness of Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the U.K's opposition Labour Party, during the 'Labour Live' festival in London, U.K., June 16, 2018.
Bloomberg

U.K. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn apologized Tuesday for hosting an event on Holocaust Memorial Day in 2010 that compared the Israeli government to the Nazis. 

The Times of London reported that while serving as a backbencher, Corbyn hosted and spoke at an event at the House of Commons in January 2010 that was part of a U.K. tour called "Never Again for Anyone – Auschwitz to Gaza."

A Holocaust survivor who attended the event told the Jewish Chronicle at the time that Corbyn had helped the police remove protesters from the talk.

Rubin Katz related how "the event was slanted as anti-racist, but the room was brimming with raging hatred, directed at Israel and Jews not sharing the organizers' views.”

Katz described a scene in which “Corbyn walked down the aisle with a policeman, pointing to those he wanted removed. As he approached me, I held up my [Holocaust Memorial Day] invitation and demanded to question my fellow survivor but no questions were allowed."

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn trying to shake hands with a supporter following a march in central London, June 30, 2018.
\ SIMON DAWSON/ REUTERS

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Corbyn was quoted by the Times as apologizing for the "concerns and anxiety" generated by his associations with the pro-Palestine cause.

"The main speaker at this Holocaust Memorial Day meeting, part of a tour entitled 'Never Again – for Anyone,' was a Jewish Auschwitz survivor. Views were expressed at the meeting which I do not accept or condone," Corbyn said.

"In the past, in pursuit of justice for the Palestinian people and peace in Israel/Palestine, I have on occasion appeared on platforms with people whose views I completely reject," he continued. "I apologize for the concerns and anxiety that this has caused."

The Auschwitz survivor speaking at the event was the late Hajo Meyer, a well-known Jewish anti-Zionist who frequently compared the Israeli government to the Nazi regime. His talk was titled "The Misuse of the Holocaust for Political Purposes."

The Times noted that another speaker at the event was Palestinian activist Haidar Eid, who spoke by phone from Gaza. 

He was reported as saying, "The world was absolutely wrong to think that Nazism was defeated in 1945. Nazism has won because it has finally managed to Nazify the consciousness of its own victims."

Some Labour lawmakers expressed concern about the latest revelations concerning Corbyn. Louise Ellman MP told BBC's "Newsnight" show she was "extremely disturbed" by the Times report. 

She added that by approving a "diluted" definition of anti-Semitism last month, the party had "made it possible to compare Israel with the Nazis." She called on the party to resolve the anti-Semitism crisis that has engulfed it for the past year. 

Labour MP John Mann added: "I've no idea how [Corbyn] got himself into that situation, but I'm glad he has apologized – and on the back of that apology is the opportunity to do something significant."

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Mann is a longtime critic of the Labour leader. But Ann Black – a former chairwoman of the party and a Corbyn ally – called on Corbyn to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's definition of anti-Semitism and end the crisis sparked by the party's decision to adopt its own wording.

"I don't think Jeremy Corbyn is in any way racist or anti-Semitic," she told "Today," adding, "I do believe he has the authority and the ability to break the current impasse."

The latest scandal comes a day after it was reported that a close Corbyn ally, Peter Willsman, said allegations about anti-Semitism in the party had been made up by "Jewish Trump fanatics." 

The Jewish Chronicle reported that two people present made formal complaints about the comments, but that Willsman was told he will not be the subject of any investigation after he apologized for his remarks.

Britain's three leading Jewish newspapers warned last week that there would be an “existential threat to Jewish life in this country” if a Corbyn-led Labour Party was elected at the next parliamentary election.