Labour anti-semitism: Jeremy Corbyn criticised over comments on mural | Politics | News

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The Labour leader appeared to defend the image, posted on Facebook in 2012, which showed hook-nosed men sitting around a Monopoly board being propped up by naked, dark-skinned “slaves”.

Jewish groups have condemned the artwork, saying it contained “vile anti-Semitic tropes” such as the idea that Jewish people controlled the world.

But when the artist Kalen Ockerman, known as Mear One, complained that efforts were being made to paint over the mural, which is called Freedom for Humanity – on a wall in east London – Mr Corbyn responded: “Why? You are in good company. Rockerfeller [sic] destroyed Diego Viera’s [sic] mural because it includes a picture of Lenin.”

Mr Corbyn, 68, claimed on Friday that he had not “looked closely at the image” when he posted the 2012 comment, saying the contents were “deeply disturbing and anti-Semitic”.

He added: “I am opposed to the production of anti-Semitic material of any kind and the defence of free speech cannot be used as a justification for the promotion of anti-Semitism in any form.”

Yesterday Stephen Pollard, 53, editor of the Jewish Chronicle newspaper, claimed Mr Corbyn’s defence was “clearly untrue” and he was “distorting the truth wilfully and shamelessly”.

He added: “Anyone with even a basic knowledge of politics, history and the world would see that the work was caricaturing Jews. And anyone denying that is indulging in sophistry.”

Mr Corbyn’s comment was unearthed in 2015 but he did not respond until Jewish Labour MP Luciana Berger came across the story last year, when a spokesman for Mr Corbyn said the Labour leader had been concerned about the removal of public art.

He added: “However, the mural was offensive and it is right that it was removed.”

The furore comes after Mr Corbyn was revealed as having been a member of a Facebook group accused of posting anti-Semitic material.

Mr Pollard added: “There’s a pattern of behaviour here.”

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