The controversial frontrunner in the race to head Britain's Labor Party has admitted he "may have" donated to an anti-Semitic organization run by a holocaust denier.
Jeremy Corbyn's ties to extremists including Hamas, Hezbollah and a range of far-right, far-left and Islamist figures have featured large in criticisms of his campaign – but have had little effect on his growing popularity.
Relating for the first time to accusations he supported notorious holocaust denier Paul Eisen's Deir Yassin Remembered (DYR) charity, Corbyn said he strongly opposed any forms of holocaust-denial as "vile and wrong."
But he admitted to UK's Channel 4 on Monday that he did attend several DYR events, claiming that at the time Eisen had not come out as a holocaust denier.
"I have no contact now whatsoever with Paul Eisen. I did attend a number of events concerning DYR a number of years ago," he said, relating to a blog by Eisen in which he claimed Corbyn was a key donor and supporter. "I think it’s reasonable we should remember all those people who have suffered in the Middle East on whatever side."
Referring to Eisen's claim that "I'd hardly begun my feverishly-rehearsed pitch before his cheque book was on the table," he denied having made any such substantial donations to the group.
"I have no recollection of a chequebook on the table. Fifteen years ago he was not a Holocaust denier; if he had been I would have had nothing to do with him.
"The Holocaust was the most vile part of our history. The Jewish people killed were the ones who suffered the most in the 21st century. Whatever happened to that memorial fund I don’t know, it was a long time ago.
"Many of us are very concerned about the situation in Palestine."
However, he admitted that he may have thrown some coins into a donation bucket on the way out.
In the interview Corbyn was not challenged on his comments referring to Hamas and Hezbollah as his "friends," nor was he asked about his strong support for an anti-Semitic vicar.
He was, however, questioned about his support for radical Israeli Islamic cleric Sheikh Raed Salah.
Salah, who heads the Islamic Movement's northern branch, has been convicted in Israel several times on charges of incitement, violence and anti-Semitism. He regularly promotes anti-Semitic stereotypes and conspiracy theories – among them that Jews were responsible for the 9/11 attacks – and has even invoked the infamous "blood libel" accusations, claiming Jews murder non-Jewish children to drink their blood.
But Corbyn has been outspoken in Salah's defense, praising him as "a very honored citizen," and stating that he is "far from a dangerous man." He also insisted that Salah's "voice must be heard" in 2012, after Salah was barred from entering the UK due to his extremism.
Defending his remarks, Corbyn told Channel 4:
"Raed Salah is an Israeli citizen who traveled to this country in a completely normal way. The issue was objected to by one Conservative MP, Mike Freer, he was detained, challenged it and returned to Israel.
"We had quite a long conversation and I made my views very clear. He did not at any stage utter any anti-Semitic remarks to me. Had he been convicted at that time then I’m surprised the Israeli government allowed him to travel."