British Labour head Jeremy Corbyn declined invitation to Yad Vashem

(JTA) — Controversial British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn turned down an invitation from the Labor Party in Israel to visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, a British newspaper reported.

Corbyn responded to the invitation, made in the spring by Israeli Labor Party head Isaac Herzog, several weeks later, the Guardian reported Saturday, saying that his schedule was full and that he would send either send deputy party leader Tom Watson or party general secretary Iain McNicol in November.

The invitation from Herzog came in April after former London Mayor Ken Livingstone said that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler supported Zionism. He was suspended from the Labour Party after making the remarks and doubled down on the remarks as he awaits a decision on whether he will be permanently expelled from the party.

The chairman of Labour Friends of Israel, British lawmaker Joan Ryan, told the Guardian that a Corbyn visit to Israel should have been a “priority.”

I’m very disappointed Jeremy turned down the invitation to visit Israel from our sister party. Given the deep concerns about his commitment to a two-state solution, his labeling of terror groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah as ‘friends’, and the allegations of anti-Semitism which have occurred on his watch, such a visit should have been a priority,” Ryan said.


Livingstone was suspended from Labour amid accusations that the party and its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, had not done enough to curb rampant anti-Semitism among party members. Corbyn, who has called Hezbollah and Hamas “friends,” also has been accused of fostering an atmosphere of anti-Semitism in the party.

A government inquiry into anti-Semitism was launched in April to determine whether anti-Jewish prejudice has increased in the United Kingdom and to assess the particular dangers facing Jews. In June, the inquiry determined that the party had not been swept with anti-Semitism.

Also over the weekend, Labour suspended  prominent Jewish party donor Michael Foster, who compared Corbyn’s supporters to Nazi storm troopers last month in an Op-Ed in the London-based Daily Mail. In the last election, Foster and his family contributed more than $500,000 to the party.