Far-left U.K. parliament member Jeremy Corbyn, who has a history of anti-Israel rhetoric and a controversial association with a group run by a Holocaust denier, was elected overwhelmingly as the new leader of his country’s opposition Labour Party on Saturday.
The 66-year-old Corbyn, who won nearly 60 percent of the ballot in the first round and became the clear victor over three other Labour ministers, is known for his denunciations of the Israel Defense Forces, and his reference to the terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah as “friends.” Corbyn has in the past also offered to host representatives of the two terror groups in the British Parliament.
In an interview with the anti-Israel website Electronic Intifada in August, Corbyn expressed support for imposing an arms embargo on Israel and boycotting Israeli universities involved in arms research.
“I think we have to push robustly for the limitation of arms supplies [to Israel],” Corbyn said.
Last month, the London Jewish Chronicle also accused Corbyn in an editorial of donating funds to Deir Yassin Remembered (DYR), an organization run by Holocaust denier Paul Eisen. Eisen wrote a blog in which he called Corbyn a “long-standing associate.”
Corbyn has called this allegation “ludicrous and wrong,” and claimed he did not know about Eisen’s views about the Holocaust when he attended a few DYR meetings some years ago, according to the Guardian.
With regard to his reference to Hamas and Hezbollah as “friends,” Corbyn told U.K.’s Channel 4 News in July that he used the term in “a collective way, saying our friends are prepared to talk.”
“I think to bring about a peace process, you have to talk to people with whom you may profoundly disagree,” he said.
Board of Deputies of British Jews President Jonathan Arkush told the Telegraph in August that “the Jewish community has some very deep concerns about the reported links to a Holocaust denier and anti-Semite. Of course his views are very hostile to Israel. But the Jewish community was also very concerned about his seeming partiality towards Hamas and Hezbollah, which are both proscribed terrorist organizations.”
A recent Jewish Chronicle poll showed that seven in 10 British Jews were concerned about Corbyn becoming the Labour leader. These concerns are “not at all exaggerated” and “held by a very, very wide consensus of the (British Jewish) community,” Arkush said.