Jeremy Corbyn has admitted having been a member of a controversial private Facebook group about Palestine but denied ever seeing anti-Semitic posts.
Labour is investigating after claims abusive messages about Jews where exchanged on the forum emerged, following an exhaustive report by blogger David Collier.
Corbyn said he was signed up to the group – Palestine Live – without his knowledge but later exchanged messages on it.
He told the Press Association: “I was joined on to that group without knowing it in probably about 2013/14.
“I removed myself from the group in 2015. I replied by Facebook message to a couple of things about a suggestion on the vote on recognising Palestine, which I supported, and inviting a doctor to speak at an event.
“I have never trawled through the whole group. I have never read all the messages on it. I have removed myself from it.
“Obviously, any anti-Semitic comment is wrong. Any anti-Semitism in any form is wrong.”
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The 280-page report published by Collier, titled ‘Anti-Semitism inside Palestine Live’, claims to unearth a sordid 3,000-strong social media network of anti-Semitism on the left that includes prominent public commentators and politicians including Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, and MPs Clive Lewis and Chris Williamson, as well as Baroness Jenny Tonge.
David Collier writes in the Jewish News this week, explaining that “the frightening aspect [of compiling the report] was the make-up and dynamic of the group, this group consisted of anti-Israel royalty. MPs, a sitting member of the House of Lords, journalists and leading representatives from most of the activist organisations.
“And underneath their feet, protected by this legitimate cover, all the elements that exist in the shadows were mingling together as one, Holocaust Deniers, Rothschild Conspiracy Theorists and White Supremacists.”
The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism published screenshots of messages said to have been posted on the Palestine Live group.
Among the comments exchanged are claims about Israeli involvement in the 9/11 terrorist attacks and as well as links to neo-Nazi groups postings.
Mr Corbyn said the party “doesn’t tolerate” anti-Semitism “in any form” and he would have challenged any abusive posts if he had seen them.
“Had I seen it, of course, I would have challenged it straight away but I actually don’t spend all my time reading social media,” he said.
Chris Williamson MP, who was also named as being in the group, told Jewish News: “I get well over a hundred notifications from social media every single day. I was not aware that I was added to this group nor have I participated in it. Upon being informed that I was a member I have left the group. Facebook should change its settings to enable users to accept or decline membership of groups.”
Clive Lewis MP and Baroness Tonge, who were also named have been approached for comment.
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