A new video shows Jeremy Corbyn’s chief of communications Seumas Milne suggesting the former Israeli president Shimon Peres was knighted due to “national alliances”.
The clip, discovered by investigative reporter Iggy Ostanin, was filmed at a conference called “The Nakba: Sixty years of dispossession, Sixty years of resistance” in February 2009, before Milne became a political aide.
Milne answered a question from a member the audience about the honorary knighthood awarded to former Israeli president Shimon Peres in 2008.
“Will we see figures like Gerry Adams and Omar al Bashir, the president of Sudan, knighted, given Shimon Peres’s knighthood?” an activist asked.
To which, Milne replied: “I think what that illustrates is where the interests lie. It’s what we’ve been discussing.
“And why Shimon Peres has been given this welcome is entirely to do with the British state’s national alliances system and has nothing to do with the merits of the case.”
The former journalist also told activists: “There is a view among pro-Palestinian people often that the Zionist movement has a grip on the media, in a way that I think sometimes exaggerates the mechanisms through which that influence is exerted.”
He continued: “One of the things that is impressive about the Zionist movement […] is the fact that many of its activists are incredibly hard-working and dedicated and they bombard the media day in day out with their obsessive campaigns.”
EXCL: Seumas Milne, @jeremycorbyn's Chief of Communications and close friend, complained that Gerry Adams and Omar al-Bashar didn't get a knighthood and Shimon Peres did saying “I think what that illustrates is where the interests lie”. pic.twitter.com/DjuoZAVZuG
— Iggy Ostanin (@magnitsky) April 24, 2019
Milne went on to say that “There is a large population of Arab origin, even larger of Muslim population, and there is the possibility of exerting that kind of campaign on the other side.”
The video received criticism online, with the MP Ian Austin writing: “The most influential official in Jeremy Corbyn’s office believes conspiracy theories about Jewish control of the media and thinks Gerry Adams and Omar al-Bashar should have got knighthoods instead of Shimon Peres.
“How much longer will Labour MPs and decent members put up with this?”
Board of Deputies vice-president Amanda Bowman said: “Here’s Seumus Milne from 10 years ago responding to a classic racist trope – that Jews control the media.
“Instead of condemning it, Milne just says it might be a bit exaggerated. This demonstrates a pattern of behaviour that we have become all too familiar with from the Labour leadership.
“Instead of denouncing anti-Jewish hatred as any true anti-racist should, he’s indulging and cosying up to antisemites.”
A Labour Party source said: “These allegations are false and designed to mislead. Seumas was making exactly the opposite point to the one being claimed.
“Releasing deliberately misleading clips such as this, ripped from their context, and conflating Israel and Jewish people in a way that Seumas did not, undermines rather than strengthens the fight against antisemitism in our society.”