A leading Israeli politician has revived questions about anti-Semitism in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party after he claimed the opposition leader “has got a problem with Jews”.
Yair Lapid, a former Israeli finance minister, who is now chairman of the opposition Yesh Atid and tipped to be a future prime minister was speaking to BBC Newsnight in a clip which aired on Wednesday.
A spokesperson for Corbyn has described the comments as “completely untrue”.
Journalist Kirsty Wark was asking Lapid about the “rise of anti-Semitism in Europe”.
Lapid said that he doesn’t think it is on the rise, but that it has become acceptable again to make anti-Semitic comments.
“It’s legitimate to say it [anti-semitic things] out loud again. I don’t think it ever disappeared,” Lapid added: “The lingo is back.”
He continued: “When Jeremy Corbyn calls Hezbollah and Hamas his friends, these are terrorist organisations... He never called us his friends, so he has got a problem with Jews.”
A spokesperson for Corbyn denied the allegation and said Labour “has a long history of strong support for and involvement with the Jewish community”.
Corbyn’s spokesperson said the Labour leader has “repeatedly called for a kinder, gentler politics”.
Accusations of anti-Semitism have blighted the Labour party since Corbyn was elected leader last year.
The Chakrabarti Inquiry launched earlier this year investigated claims of anti-Semitism within the party after controversial comments were made by prominent Labour figures Ken Livingstone and Naz Shah.
Shami Chakrabarti’s report found that there was an “occasionally toxic atmosphere” within the Labour party, but it was not overrun by anti-Semitism or other types of racism.
When asked by Wark whether it was possible to be anti-Zionist but not anti-Semitic, Lapid said: “I think not. I think it’s camouflage. Israel is the embodiment of the Jewish spirit.”
He continued: “When you don’t know something, you go to the experts so if you don’t know if somebody is an anti-Semite or not you ask the experts.
“You know who the experts are? The Jews. If I’m telling you people who say that are anti-Semites then, they are.”
A spokesperson for Corbyn said in a statement to the Huffington Post UK: “This allegation is completely untrue.
“Jeremy has consistently spoken out against all forms of anti-Semitism and condemned all abuse.
“No one responsible for any abuse can call themselves a genuine supporter of Jeremy’s, who has repeatedly called for a kinder, gentler politics.
“Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party are implacably opposed to anti-Semitism in all its forms and has a long history of strong support for and involvement with the Jewish community.
“As leader, Jeremy Corbyn launched the first major inquiry into antisemitism by any British political party.
“Labour supports a two state solution to the Israel Palestine conflict and to achieve it, Jeremy will continue to work with those on both sides of the divide to bring lasting peace.”