New footage shows Jeremy Corbyn saying BBC has a 'bias towards saying Israel has a right to exist'

Mr Corbyn was being interviewed for Iranian broadcaster Press TV


Footage has resurfaced that shows Jeremy Corbyn suggesting the BBC has a "bias" in favour of saying "Israel has a right to exist".

Appearing on the Iranian state-funded Press TV’s “INFocus” programme in May 2011, Mr Corbyn said there was “pressure on the BBC" from its Director General Mark Thompson who, Mr Corbyn said, "seems to me to have an agenda in this respect", and from "the Israeli government and the Israeli embassy".

During Mr Thompson's tenure as Director General which lasted from 2004 to 2012, a recurring theme among antisemitic forums online was that he was part of a "Jewish mafia". Mr Thompson's wife is Jewish. 

He said: "They are very assertive towards all journalists and the BBC itself. They challenge every single thing on reporting the whole time.”

He added: “I think there is a bias towards saying that Israel is a democracy in the Middle East, Israel has a right to exist, Israel has its security concerns.”

The footage - the latest to emerge of Mr Corbyn in his backbencher days - was uncovered on Tuesday by The Golem, a political blogger who writes on the subject of antisemitism.


Simon Johnson, chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, tweeted his reaction to the video:



A Labour spokesperson told the JC that the Israeli government was "well known to run an effective and highly professional media operation".

They added: “Jeremy was arguing that despite the occupation of Palestinian territory and the lack of a Palestinian state, Israeli concerns and perspectives are more likely to appear prominently in news reporting than Palestinian ones.

“Jeremy is committed to a comprehensive peace in the Middle East based on a two-state solution - a secure Israel alongside a secure and viable state of Palestine."

Footage of another of Mr Corbyn's Press TV appearances from 2012 resurfaced last week, showing he said he blamed "the hand of Israel" for terrorist attacks in Egypt.

As a result, Mr Corbyn was condemned by the Board of Deputies for "leading the Labour Party into a dark place of ugly conspiracy theories".

In response to the latest video footage, Jennifer Gerber, Director of Labour Friends of Israel (LFI), said:

"In these deplorable remarks, not only does Jeremy Corbyn use another appearance on Iranian state TV to engage in further wild conspiracy theories about Israel, he also questions the Jewish state's right to exist. Is it any wonder he has resisted so hard adopting the full IHRA definition of antisemitism?"

Labour MP John Mann, who is chair of the all-party group on antisemitism, said: “I’m sure Jeremy will want to set the record state immediately - preferably by making a statement on the BBC.”

He added: “We should be backing the BBC. The BBC stand for everything that the Labour party and its values stand for and nobody should be going on Press TV."

Dave Rich, head of policy at the Community Security Trust (CST) tweeted: "Corbyn made these comments to the state broadcaster of a regime whose leaders repeatedly call for the annihilation of Israel. That's the context in which he suggests it is biased to say Israel has a right to exist".

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