Jeremy Corbyn Endorses BDS Movement in 2015 Footage

In video filmed in Belfast, U.K. Labour leader says the movement is 'part and parcel of a legal process that has to be adopted' ■ Corbyn has since maintained he opposes a blanket boycott of Israel

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn in London, Britain, June 16, 2018
\ TOBY MELVILLE/ REUTERS

Footage from 2015 shows Jeremy Corbyn endorsing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel as “part and parcel of a legal process that has to be adopted.” The video was reposted on Facebook last Thursday.

Corbyn, a far-left politician who became the leader of Britian’s Labour party in 2015, is shown during a conference in Belfast months before he assumed the party leadership.

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Corbyn has maintained that he opposes a blanket boycott of Israel, supporting instead only boycotting produce from Israeli settlements.

“Jeremy is not in favor of a comprehensive or blanket boycott,” a spokesperson for Corbyn told The Guardian in December. “He doesn’t support BDS. He does support targeted action aimed at illegal settlements and occupied territories.”

In the footage filmed in Belfast, he is asked: “Can the panel give hope to the people of Palestine by supporting the movement for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions against Israel?”

He replies: “I think the boycott campaign, divestment campaign, is part and parcel of a legal process that has to be adopted," later adding “I believe that sanctions against Israel, because of its breach of the trade agreement, are the appropriate way of promoting [the] peace process.”

The footage was published in 2015 by Sinn Féin, the left-wing nationalist Northern Irish political party that hosted Corbyn in Belfast.

Corbyn, who in 2009 hosted a visit to Britain’s parliament by Hamas and Hezbollah politicians, calling them his “friends,” was seen by many as an outlier in the Labour Party for his radical politics. He was widely considered as having slim chances of leading the movement.

David Hirsh, a senior lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London and author of the book “Contemporary Left Antisemitism,” posted the video on his Facebook page.

Last week, Corbyn faced rebuke from within and without Labour following the publication of a photo of him holding a wreath in 2014 over a plaque in Tunisia honoring those responsible for the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

In May, Corbyn denied allegation that he had attended the commemoration, insisting he was at the cemetery where some of them are buried for a memorial honoring 47 people who were killed in an Israeli airstrike on a Tunisian PLO base in 1985.

This is the latest in a long string of cases in which Corbyn was accused of tacitly tolerating or encouraging vitriol against Israel, Jews or both. He has denied the allegations of anti-Semitism, claiming he was fought racism in all its forms for his entire life.

Last week, Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson increased pressure on Corbyn during an interview for The Observer, saying the party could "disappear into a vortex of eternal shame" unless he tackled the growing crisis. 

Corbyn tried to tackle the continued concerns of the Jewish community and other critics by using a video message to press his pledge to drive anti-Semitism out of the party "for good."

On Saturday, Labour suspended a former lawmaker who said he lost respect for the Jewish community "due to what they and their Blairite plotters are doing to my party and the long suffering people of Britain."