Jeremy Corbyn, former leader of the British Labour Party, was banned from speaking at a conference in Berlin this week by the hosting venue due to his “stance on the Middle East”, the venue confirmed on Tuesday (7 October).
Corbyn was supposed to discuss the future of Europe at the event, which will take place Wednesday through Friday and was organised by the German Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, a think tank affiliated with the far-left Die Linke party. Other speakers mainly include leading figures from the party’s ranks.
However, the hosting venue, the Volksbühne Theatre in Berlin, asked for Corbyn’s invitation to be withdrawn due to discomfort with his views on the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, as Neues Deutschland reported first.
“Due to Jeremy Corbyn’s current stance on the Middle East conflict, we have decided not to offer him a public audience at the Volksbühne,” a spokesperson for the theatre told the newspaper.
Corbyn, who parted as a leader of the centre-left Labour party in 2019, caused controversy in Britain, as he refused to explicitly call out Hamas for its attack on Israel in early October when asked by a Channel 4 reporter in the wake of Hamas’ incursion.
“I don’t support any attacks, therefore I criticise them all,” he said, adding that he was in favour of peace and also wanted Israel’s occupation of Palestine to end.
The topic is extremely sensitive in Germany due to its National Socialist past and enduring historical memory of the Holocaust. After the attack, German MPs – including from the far-left and the far-right – unanimously passed a resolution condemning Hamas and expressing its solidarity with Israel, a message that has since been echoed repeatedly by Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
Outrage about Corbyn goes back to past statements in which he had called Hamas “friends”, which he later rescinded and said he regretted. During his leadership, the Labour Party was also plagued by allegations of antisemitism, which prompted several MPs to resign.
Corbyn’s successor, Keir Starmer, has thus made a point of taking a stance against antisemitism, removing the whip from Corbyn and ultimately blocking him from running as a Labour MP at the next election after Corbyn claimed that antisemitism cases within Labour had been “dramatically overstated for political reasons”.
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[Edited by Nathalie Weatherald]
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