Outrage over Corbyn’s ‘British Zionists don’t get English irony’ insult
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Outrage over Corbyn’s ‘British Zionists don’t get English irony’ insult

At a 2013 meeting promoted by Hamas, the Labour leader said UK supporters of Israel had “no sense of English irony” despite having 'lived in Britain all their lives”.

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

A new furious row has erupted after comments made by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in 2013 were made public in the Mail Online.

Speaking at a meeting at Friends House, Euston, promoted by the website of Hamas, Corbyn said that British Zionists had “no sense of English irony” despite having ‘lived in Britain all of their lives”.

Corbyn told his audience: “[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”.

He added: “They needed two lessons, which we could perhaps help them with”.

The meeting was held to discuss the British legacy in Palestine. According to the video of his comments, Corbyn was referring to a previous meeting addressed by the Palestinian ambassador to the UK, Manuel Hassassian. He said: ““The other evening we had a meeting in Parliament in which Manuel made an incredibly powerful and passionate and effective speech about the history of Palestine and the rights of the Palestinian people.

“This was dutifully recorded by the – the thankfully silent Zionists who were in the audience on that occasion and then came up and berated him afterwards for what he had said.  They 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. Manuel does understand English irony and he uses it very very effectively.”

The event was advertised online by Hamas’ Al-Qassam Brigades, which is designated a terrorist group by Britain, the EU, the United States and other countries.

According to Mail Online, in one of the speeches, made by 9/11 conspiracy theorist Alan Hart, Zionism was described as a “cancer at the heart of international affairs”. It was also called a ‘monster’ and compared to Nazi Germany.

Liverpool Labour MP Luciana Berger expressed fury at the comments made by the Labour leader. She said: “The video released today of the leader of UK Labour, making inexcusable  comments — defended by a party spokesman — makes me, as a proud British Jew, feel unwelcome in my own party. I’ve lived in Britain all my life and I don’t need any lessons in history/irony”.

Gideon Falter, chair of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, said: “Jeremy Corbyn’s xenophobic portrayal of ‘Zionists’ as foreign to Britain and recognisable by their ignorance and humourlessness is utterly shameful, even by his low standards.

‘It is precisely this euphemistic use of the word ‘Zionist’ to refer to Jews and direct smears at us which used to be the preserve of antisemites amongst the aristocracy.

‘This shows yet again that Jeremy Corbyn just does not get Jews and the concerns of the Jewish community.”

Jennifer Gerber, director of Labour Friends of Israel, said: “The thousands of Israelis who have family members killed by Hamas terrorism will not understand why Mr Corbyn believes these are suitable people to associate with”.

The conference was organised by the Palestine Return Centre (PRC), which has close links to both Hamas and Corbyn.

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