British Labour’s Richard Burgon has been proven to have lied when he denied he had ever said “Zionism is the enemy of peace”, as footage of him using these words was exposed.
The shadow justice secretary appeared on the BBC’s Daily Politics Show in March 2018 and presenter Andrew Neil asked about a Daily Mail report that claimed he said this.
Burgon insisted repeatedly that he “didn’t say that” and “that’s not my view.”
But investigative journalist Iggy Ostanin has now unearthed footage of the speech Mr. Burgon made at a 2014 Labour meeting, where he can clearly be heard telling the audience: “The enemy of the Palestinian people are Zionists and Zionism is the enemy of peace and the enemy of the Palestinian people.”
Jewish groups accused him of “dog-whistle attacks on British Jews” and called the case “shameful”.
On the Daily Politics Show last year, the Leeds East MP initially tried to suggest the allegation about his comments had been made only in the Daily Express newspaper – and that the paper has been unable to clarify when he was supposed to have exactly said them.
Burgon, who is one of Jeremy Corbyn’s biggest allies in the shadow cabinet, said that the allegations were “not my view” and that he believed “on occasions like the governments of others countries Israel has been an enemy of peace.”
As the damning footage of the speech reveals, Burgon also said: “I make no apologies – and I am 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.”
He urged the audience to check which MPs were LFI members and ask them to “resign in protest at what’s happening in Gaza now”.
Reacting to the latest revelation, LFI Director Jennifer Gerber said: “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. 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.
“Somebody who aspires to be one of the country’s leading legal figures simply cannot behave in this fashion.”
Board of Deputies Vice-President Amanda Bowman said in a statement: “These comments were shameful. Richard Burgon’s denial and the subsequent revelation of his 2014 incitement against Zionists encapsulate the total sham of Labour’s approach to antisemitism.
“At the very least he should apologise for his comments and for his denial of them. The Jewish community has been consistently gaslighted by the Labour Party and they continue to abdicate their responsibility to deal with antisemitism in their ranks.”
Burgon issued a statement saying he “did not recall” making the remarks when a newspaper had first reported them but added it was “now clear that I did and I regret doing so”.