BBC Radio 4 is planning to air a five-part series next week, presented by Emeritus Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks, on Morality In The 21st Century. Rabbi Lord Sacks and his guests will explore topics including the impact of social media on young people; Artificial Intelligence and the future of humanity; the impact of individualism; and multiculturalism on communities.
All of which probably adds more punch to the fact that the same Emeritus Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks on Tuesday said that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s comments on British Zionists were the most offensive made by a senior UK politician since Enoch Powell’s rivers of blood speech in 1968.
On 20 April 1968, British MP Enoch Powell addressed a meeting of the Conservative Political Center in Birmingham, and strongly criticized mass immigration to the UK and the proposed Race Relations Bill. It became known as the “Rivers of Blood” speech despite the fact that the expression “rivers of blood” did not appear in it, which is why Powell always referred to it as “the Birmingham speech.”
The 2013 footage of Corbyn’s attack on British Zionists who were critical of PLO Ambassador Manuel Hassassian has emerged recently, showing Corbyn saying those 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 of their lives, they don’t understand English irony either.”
“It was divisive, hateful and like Powell’s speech it undermines the existence of an entire group of British citizens by depicting them as essentially alien,” Rabbi Sacks said, adding, “We can only judge Jeremy Corbyn by his words and his actions. He has given support to racists, terrorists and dealers of hate who want to kill Jews and remove Israel from the map.
“When he implies that, however long they have lived here, Jews are not fully British, he is using the language of classic pre-war European anti-Semitism.
“When challenged with such facts, the evidence for which is before our eyes, first he denies, then he equivocates, then he obfuscates.
“This is low, dishonest and dangerous. He has legitimized the public expression of hate, and where he leads, others will follow.
“Now, within living memory of the Holocaust, and while Jews are being murdered elsewhere in Europe for being Jews, we have an anti-Semite as the leader of the Labour Party and Her Majesty’s Opposition.
“That is why Jews feel so threatened by Mr Corbyn and those who support him.”
Sky News, which offered the transliteration of Rabbi Sacks’ comments, reported that Corbyn has been reported to the parliamentary standards watchdog by the Conservatives over his remarks, and cited Helen Grant, the Tory vice-chairwoman for communities, who said Corbyn’s comments were dubbed “xenophobic and anti-Semitic.”
Here’s an example of true English irony: Margaret Thatcher does the Dead Parrot Sketch: