Corbyn Ally and British Labour Politician: ‘Zionism Is the Enemy of Peace’

A British MP called Zionism "the enemy of peace" at a 2014 Labour meeting, despite denying he made those comments during an appearance on the BBC last year.

The comments by Richard Burgon, who is the shadow secretary of state for justice and shadow lord chancellor, were uncovered by investigative journalist Iggy Ostanin.

"And the enemy, the enemy of the Palestinian people is not the Jewish people. The enemy of the Palestinian people are Zionists. And Zionism is the enemy of peace and the enemy of the Palestinian people. And we need to be loud, we need to be proud in support of a free Palestine. I make no apologies, I'm proud to say not only wouldn't I be a member of Labour Friends of Israel, I've never been a member of Labour Friends of Israel," Burgon said.

"And I'm all for everyone's opinions being out there and everyone having their opinion treated with respect, but look upon the Internet because it's there to see on the Labour Friends of Israel website which MPs are members of Labour Friends of Israel, which Labour MPs are officers of Labour Friends of Israel. And ask them, in support of the Palestinian people in protest of what's happening in Gaza now to resign from Labour Friends of Israel to show support for all humanity," Burgon continued.

Burgon was asked whether he called Zionism "the enemy of peace" at a 2016 Labour Party meeting while on the BBC's Daily Politics Show in March 2018, prompting the MP to dismiss the allegation and say the supposed comments did not reflect his views.

Labour Friends of Israel director Jennifer Gerber called on Burgon to apologize.

"For nearly two years, Richard Burgon has deployed half-denials and weasel words to escape responsibility for his appalling suggestion that Zionism is the enemy of peace," Gerber said. "Now that we've all seen exactly what he said, it's time for Mr. Burgon to apologise both for this slur on the Jewish people's right to self-determination and for seemingly misleading the public about it."

Burgon is an important ally of Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has also faced accusations of anti-Semitism. A recent report found Corbyn has failed to sanction members of the party who shared anti-Semitic messages online.

The Times of Israel has highlighted Corbyn's history of anti-Semitism:

In the 1980s, Corbyn sponsored and spoken for a group called the Labour Movement Campaign for Palestine whose official platform declared its "opposition to the Zionist state as racist, exclusivist, expansionist and a direct agency of imperialism." A conference it held in 1984 demanded that the Labour Party's key institutions "support the Palestinian people in their struggle for a democratic and secular state in the whole of Palestine"; materials published by the movement for the event proclaimed that it sought "to eradicate Zionism."

In 2009 Corbyn called Hamas and Hezbollah his "friends" and said that Hamas was working to achieve peace and justice; he subsequently apologized for the comment. In 2012 he defended an anti-Semitic mural — for which he also subsequently apologized. In 2013, he said British "Zionists" don't understand British irony.

In 2014 he laid flowers at a cemetery where Palestinian terrorists who murdered Israeli athletes in Munich in 1972 are buried. Appearing at a Labour Friends of Israel reception during his party's annual conference in 2015, soon after he had been elected Labour leader, he was heckled after giving an address during which he did not mention the word "Israel."

In 2018 when Labour belatedly adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's working definition of anti-Semitism, Corbyn sought in vain to add a caveat that it should not be considered anti-Semitic to describe Israel and/or the circumstances of Israel’s establishment as racist.