Speaker Compares Israel to Nazi Germany at U.K. Labour Party Conference

Jeremy Corbyn, Labour Party leader / Getty
Jeremy Corbyn / Getty
• September 26, 2017 12:11 pm


The British Labour Party is once again embroiled in an anti-Semitism scandal, this time thanks to a speaker who compared Israel to Nazi Germany.

The event, "Free speech on Israel: why we oppose the witch hunt," was listed in the official handbook of Labour's annual conference, and the party is now trying to control the damage, the Daily Mail reports.

Miko Peled, an Israeli-American who is a long-time anti-Israel activist, said during the event that the pro-Israel lobby is against Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn. He further argued that Zionists should not be allowed in Labour circles.

"It's about the limits of tolerance: We don't invite the Nazis and give them an hour to explain why they are right," Peled said. "We do not invite apartheid South Africa racists to explain why apartheid was good for the blacks, and in the same way we do not invite Zionists—it's a very similar kind of thing."

He argued that no topic related to Zionism should be off limits to debate, saying, for instance, that the party should be free to debate whether the Holocaust actually happened.

"This is about free speech, the freedom to criticize and to discuss every issue, whether it's the Holocaust: yes or no, Palestine, the liberation, the whole spectrum," Peled said. "There should be no limits on the discussion."

Peled also said Israel should not exist as a country,

"Israel is a racist, settler colonial project," Peled said, as quoted by the U.K.'s Jewish Chronicle. "I don't call the country Israel. Calling it Israel is legitimizing the crime. It's legitimizing the settler colonial crimes. I don't believe we should do that. The country has a name—it's called Palestine."

The anti-Israel activist responded on Twitter Monday to the backlash, saying that while he is anti-Zionist, he is not anti-Semitic.

Michael Kalmanovitz of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network drew applause at the event for demanding the Jewish Labour Movement and the Labour Friends of Israel be expelled from the party.

"If you support Israel, you support apartheid—so what is the JLM or LFI doing in our party?" Kalmanovitz said. "Isn't it time we campaigned to kick them out?"

The panel discussion was chaired by Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, who also addressed the party at its conference, denouncing Israeli settlements while insisting Labour still cares about Jews.

"This party does not have a problem with Jews," she said in her speech.

Just last year, Wimborne-Idrissi said Jewish people "exploit" the Holocaust to excuse Israel's crimes against Palestinians. She has also come to the defense of Jackie Walker, who was removed from her leadership of a Labour-affiliated organization after she called for Holocaust Day to focus less on Jewish people.

Labour Deputy Leader Tom Watson has since made efforts to disconnect the party from any anti-Semitic views, and said the conference organizing committee would investigate.

"It is nothing to do with the official Labour party conference," Watson said on British TV. "And if there was Holocaust denial there, these people have no right to be in the Labour Party, and if they are they should be expelled."

Tory Member of Parliament Sheryll Murray, whose campaign posters have been vandalized with swastikas, decried Corbyn's leadership.

"From what we've seen today at the Labour conference, it feels like things are getting worse rather than better," she said. "I worry it's putting good people off from working in politics. It's hardly the kinder, gentler politics that Jeremy Corbyn promised."

Published under: Anti-Semitism, Israel