UK Labour leader calls accusations of anti-Semitism 'hurtful,' 'offensive'

UK Labour leader calls accusations of anti-Semitism 'hurtful,' 'offensive'
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The United Kingdom's Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, denied accusations that he is anti-Semitic on Sunday.

"I do find that actually quite hurtful and quite offensive," Corbyn told the BBC regarding a British rabbi's accusation that Corbyn has made the most offensive comments since an infamous speech by late politician Enoch Powell.

Last month, the rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, condemned statements Corbyn made regarding British Zionists, calling Corbyn "an anti-Semite" who has "given support to racists, terrorists and dealers of hate." 

“It was divisive, hateful and, like Powell’s speech, it undermines the existence of an entire group of British citizens by depicting them as essentially alien,” Sacks said of Corbyn's comments, according to the Independent.

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Corbyn made the comments five years ago at a pro-Palestinian event, saying, “[British Zionists] clearly have two problems: One is they don’t want to study history, and secondly, having lived in this country for a very long time, probably all their lives, they don’t understand English irony either.”

Corbyn said Sunday that he had not intended the statement to be anti-Semitic and that he is against racism, according to Politico. 

"I want to live in a society where all faiths are respected," Corbyn said, when the BBC interviewer said many Jewish Britons are worried about Corbyn. "I want to live in a society where we're free of racism in any form."

"That means that all communities must be able to live in safety, including all Jewish communities," he said. 

Beyond his comments from five years ago, Corbyn has been labeled an anti-Semite for a variety of actions, many done in the context of his criticism of Israel.

Most notably, in 2009, Corbyn invited "friends from Hamas" to the House of Commons and asserted that it was a "big, big historical mistake" to label the group, as well as Hezbollah, as terrorist organizations.

Corbyn has also been accused of laying a wreath on the grave of one of the Black September terrorists during a visit to Tunisia in 2014.