Corbyn made the remarks as he announced results of report on anti-Semitism in Labour Party
Israeli parliamentarians have expressed fury over the comments
Embattled British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, already fighting to survive a revolt from his MPs, walked into a fresh firestorm Thursday when he appeared to compare the Israeli government to ISIS.
“Our Jewish friends are no more responsible for the actions of Israel or the Netanyahu government than our Muslim friends are for those of various self-styled Islamic states or organizations,” the opposition leader said as he announced the results of a report investigating accusations of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party.
The remarks drew a swift response from British Jewish leaders and Israeli parliamentarians.
Knesset member Yair Lapid, leader of the center-left Yesh Atid party in Israel’s opposition, said that the comments were “pure anti-Semitism.”
“It is unacceptable that on such a difficult day for the State of Israel, when an innocent young girl was murdered in a terror attack by an evil terrorist just because she was a Jew, the Leader of the Opposition in the UK compares Israel and ISIS, made worse by being at the launch of a report on anti-Semitism in his own party.”
A 13-year-old Israeli girl was stabbed to death while she was asleep in her bed by a Palestinian teenager Thursday morning in the southern West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba, according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Shaare Zedek Medical Center.
Lapid continued: “It is an infuriating comparison which is evidence of his ignorance. It is pure anti-Semitism.”
‘Betrayal of global Labor values’
MK Isaac Herzog, Israeli opposition leader and head of Israel’s Labor Party, also condemned Corbyn’s comments.
“Jeremy Corbyn’s suggestion of moral equivalence between Israel and ISIS is outrageous, unacceptable, and a betrayal of global Labor values,” he said.
Fellow Labor MKs were similarly outraged. MK Nachman Shai said that following the remarks, “We and Labour are no longer the same family.”
And Labor MK Itzik Shmuli called on British Labour MPs “to throw (Corbyn) out due to his loss of touch with reality.”
Rabbi Danny Rich, chief executive of the Liberal Judaism movement in the UK who was among those calling for the investigation in May, questioned whether Corbyn had learned “anything at all” from the inquiry.
Corbyn did not respond to a CNN request for comment on the issue, but according to the Independent newspaper, he responded to a question about the alleged comparison, saying “Of course, I’m not” making a link between the two.
Labour’s anti-Semitism controversy
The Labour probe was instigated in response to an anti-Semitism scandal that gripped the party earlier this year
The controversy began when it was revealed the Labour MP Naz Shah had shared an image on social media, prior to taking office, which called for Israel to be relocated to the United States.
Shah apologized, but the episode sparked soul-searching within the party, especially when prominent Labour figure and former London mayor Ken Livingstone made further offensive comments while speaking up in her defense.
Corbyn is currently battling to keep his job amid criticisms he campaigned poorly to keep Britain in the EU.
The Labour leader has weathered a mass of defections from his leadership team and overwhelmingly lost a no-confidence vote by Labour MPs Tuesday, but is refusing to resign. He is expected to face a formal challenge from his MPs once a rival leadership candidate is chosen.
In a fiery exchange Wednesday in the first Parliamentary session since the referendum, British Prime Minister David Cameron told Corbyn that he should step down “in the national interest.”
“It might be in my party’s interest for him to sit there. It’s not in the national interest, and I would say, for heaven’s sake man, go,” Cameron said.
CNN’s Oren Liebermann reported from Jerusalem, Tim Hume wrote and reported from London and Richard Allen Greene reported from London. CNN’s Alex Felton, Phil Black and Marilia Brocchetto also contributed to this report.