Labour donor who heckled Jeremy Corbyn challenges leader to say he recognises Israel


The Jewish donor who heckled Jeremy Corbyn at a Labour Friends of Israel reception has used a television appearance to challenge the party leader to say he recognises the country.

Michael Foster told the BBC’s Daily Politics programme he had shouted at Mr Corbyn at Tuesday’s event because he felt the politician was not addressing the concerns of the LFI audience.

Mr Corbyn had spoken for eight minutes at the reception without referring to Israel by name, or mentioning LFI.

On Friday’s show Mr Foster said: “I don’t think for one moment that Jeremy is antisemitic. My challenge to Jeremy Corbyn is that if you believe in the state of Israel, say the word ‘Israel’, say that you recognise Israel and believe in it.

“I am front page of the Jewish Chronicle. The Jewish Chronicle has done nothing but for five months ask of Jeremy Corbyn ‘what is your position on Israel’.

“The Jewish community has been a supporter of the Labour party for 100 years. People like Mo Glassman [Labour peer Lord Glassman] are thinkers within the party.

“I think the community deserves to know what the leader of the Labour Party thinks of its view towards Israel.”

Mr Foster said he would continue to fund Labour – he has given more than £260,000 to the party – and would back the party’s London mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan, and his own local party in Cornwall.

“I simply want Jeremy Corbyn in his gentler, kinder politics, to answer the question ‘do you believe in the state of Israel, do you recognise it?’,” Mr Foster concluded.

Times journalist Ann Treneman told the programme: “I think if you’re asked a question you should answer it. I don’t understand why he’s not here putting it to rest. It’s quite easy to do. It would take about one minute. Yet it hasn’t happened. It continues to fester. It doesn’t make sense.”

The BBC said it had put Mr Foster’s concerns to Labour but had not received a response.

Earlier in the programme, George Galloway, Respect party candidate for the London mayoralty, outlined his opposition to Mr Khan. He cited Mr Khan’s interview with the JC last month to criticise what he called an “attack with venom” on Mr Corbyn.

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