Jeremy Corbyn stood on a stage in Trafalgar Square and listened while a speaker claimed Zionism had made Jews “immoral”, and then embraced him as he walked off. Corbyn also appeared to be present while another speaker told Palestinians to “explode in the faces” of Israelis and threatened “jihad, jihad, jihad until Palestine is free.”
The speeches were part of a Palestine Solidarity Campaign rally in 2008, an organisation Corbyn is still a patron of. In addition to the Labour leader, MPs Richard Burden, Caroline Lucas and George Galloway were all reportedly at the event, although there is no evidence that they heard the comments.
Footage of the rally shows Corbyn stood just a few feet away from Ismail Patel as he says, “we see the impact of Zionism on Palestinians, but it has had a devastating effect on the Jewish community itself: it has made them immoral in justice.” The two men embraced as Patel walked off the stage a minute later, to be followed by Corbyn’s address.
Patel is the Chair of Friends of Al-Aqsa, a Leicester-based campaign which raised £10,000 for Corbyn’s first leadership campaign. The donation caused the Labour leader problems in 2016, when it was discovered it had never been declared, despite Electoral Commission rules requiring declarations for all donations over £7,500. Corbyn’s spokesperson said at the time “there is nothing dodgy going on.”
Corbyn was also stood to the side of the stage while the academic Azzam Tamimi delivered a message to people in Gaza saying, “if they starve you, if they deny you water, if they deny you life, explode in their faces, do whatever you want.” Tamimi also pledged that unless Palestinian’s rights were fully recognised, “it will be jihad, jihad and jihad until Palestine is free.”
Jeremy Corbyn has met and shared platforms with Azzam Tamimi several times since hearing these comments in 2008. They both appeared on a panel in Parliament in 2015, spoke at a rally in 2009, and the two were pictured laughing together at the 2013 Middle Eastern Monitor book awards.