Peres denies calling Brits anti-Semitic

President had been quoted as accusing MPs of pandering to Muslims.

August 2, 2010 09:59
1 minute read.
President Shimon Peres

Peres speaking 311 AP. (photo credit: Associated Press)


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President Shimon Peres has issued a denial after reports circulated that he called the British "anti-Semites" in a recent interview with Jewish news website Tablet.

The Daily Telegraph reported late Sunday that Peres's office issued a statement denying the accusation and stressing the importance of Israeli-British relations.

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“President Peres never accused the British people of anti-Semitism. The president does not believe that British governments are motivated by anti-Semitism, nor were they in the past," the statement reportedly said.

Peres had been quoted by Tablet as saying that Britain has become pro-Arab and anti-Israeli: "In England there has always been something deeply pro-Arab, of course, not among all Englishmen, and anti-Israeli, in the establishment."

Peres also accused British lawmakers of pandering to Muslim voters in order to retain their seats in Parliament.

"There are several million Muslim voters, and for many members of parliament, that’s the difference between getting elected and not getting elected," he said.

In an interview with The Jerusalem Post on Friday, Britain’s outgoing ambassador to Israel, Sir Tom Phillips, acknowledged that there was anti-Semitism in Britain, stating: "I wouldn’t want to deny that there is anti-Semitism in the UK. It’s a very difficult area between ‘Israel as a state must take legitimate criticism’ and a gray edge to that which gets into dark forces. The government has to try and hold that line very carefully in its own discourse, and we do so.”

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