Palestinian ambassador says leaders won’t stand up to Israel for fear of being labelled anti-semitic
PALESTINE’S ambassador to Britain tore into politicians yesterday for failing to stand up to Israel for fear of being branded anti-semitic.
Manuel Hassassian said that London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn were being “very careful” over what they say amid a row over alleged anti-semitism within the party.
Human rights campaigner Shami Chakrabarti opened an investigation into the alleged problem yesterday.
“Israeli and zionist lobbyists are monitoring people in public office” and anything they do not like about the way issues concerning Israel are addressed are “immediately labelled as anti-semitism,” he told Russia Today’s Going Underground.
Mr Hassassian rubbished claims that criticising Israel — which a United Nations panel last year accused of war crimes during its 2014 invasion of the Gaza Strip — equates to being “anti-semitic.”
He said: “Politicians should make a distinction between Israel, the settler power, and the Abrahamic religion of Judaism, which is respected by Muslims and Christians.
“We do not have a problem with Judaism. We have to deal with political zionism, an ideology based on racism and colonialism.”
The ambassador also blasted Mr Khan for supporting a festival planned for London next summer, with former mayor Boris Johnson’s backing, to celebrate Israeli capital Tel Aviv.
He said that Mr Khan may be “sympathetic to the Palestinians … on the individual level … but in public statements he is trying to avoid it.
“Like Jeremy Corbyn, who was an ardent, staunch supporter of the Palestinians and now we hardly see any statements coming from him in support of Palestine.
“He is very careful, the way Sadiq Khan is handling this situation is exactly the same.”
The Star contacted City Hall and the Labour Party for comment on Mr Hassassian’s statements but did not receive any responses.
The claims that Mr Corbyn and Mr Khan are being silenced over the decades-long conflict were aired a day after Nakba Day — or the Day of the Catastrophe — on Sunday, which marks when more than 700,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes during the 1948 war which established Israel.
Mr Khan was not able to attend a Nakba Day cultural evening held by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) — but the organisers have urged the mayor to hold a ceremony next year in Trafalgar Square to mark a century since the Balfour Declaration, in which the then foreign secretary promised to hand over Palestinian land to the zionist movement.
PSC interim director Sara Apps said: “We have written to Sadiq Khan on his becoming mayor and invited him to support our work for Palestinian human rights.
“We hope that Mr Khan will show his commitment to human rights and international law during his term in office, and give his support to the Palestinian campaign for freedom and justice,” she said.