On 8th August 2016, Mr Burgon’s comments in  were reported in the Daily Mail.
On 16th August 2016, the then Chair of Labour Friends of Israel, Joan Ryan MP, wrote to Mr Burgon in response to his reported comments: “I am sure that you will agree that any suggestion that Jewish self-determination is an ‘enemy of peace’ serves simply to demonise those who believe in the mere right of a Jewish state to exist. As such, it is highly offensive to the vast majority of British Jews. Indeed, even high-profile figures on the left who are extremely critical of Israel, such as Jon Lansman, have suggested that ‘the Left must stop talking about ‘Zionism’.”
On 28th March 2018, when interviewed on the BBC’s Daily Politics show, Mr Burgon was repeatedly asked by presenter Andrew Neil to confirm whether or not he had said “Zionism is the enemy of peace”, and he repeatedly denied both making the comments, or that they reflected his view. When presented with the evidence, and Ms Ryan’s comments, he stated: “I didn’t say that”…“It’s not my view”…“No (I didn’t say that) and it’s not my view”…“Well, I didn’t make those comments”…“and it’s not my view, so if it’s not my view, I wouldn’t have made those comments”. Furthermore, in the course of that interview, it was reported that Mr Burgon had replied to Ms Ryan’s letter, but in doing so apparently failed to deny that he had made the comments. However, when the presenter said: “When you replied to her you didn’t deny that you made those comments”, Mr Burgon responded by saying: “Well I would not have said that because it’s not my view.”
On 16th April 2019, the investigative journalist Iggy Ostanin exposed the original footage of Mr Burgon’s 2014 speech , saying: “Richard Burgon repeatedly lied to Andrew Neil when he denied saying ‘Zionism is the enemy of peace’.”
Also on 16th April 2019, the Jewish Labour Movement wrote to Mr Burgon and the Chief Whip, asking for clarification and an apology, on behalf of his members. The JLM also made a public statement: “The vast majority of British Jews identify as Zionists – irrespective of their views on Israel’s current government and policies. Insulting a core part of their identity, and then dissembling about it, is shameful behaviour from a senior frontbencher for our Party, let alone someone who aspires to administer our justice system. You can’t play at being Lord Chancellor-in-waiting whilst making dog-whistle attacks on British Jews and their right, through Zionism, for national self-determination.”
Following this criticism, Mr Burgon released a statement expressing regret and explaining why he had denied making the comments when the issue was first raised with him in August 2016: “When it was put to me…that I had made these remarks I did not recall doing so and therefore asked for the full quotes to be provided to me, and asked when and where I had said it. I received no reply, so I believed it was inaccurate to have claimed that I had used that phrase. It is now clear that I did and I regret doing so. As I have subsequently said on numerous occasions when asked about this, I do not agree with that phrase. I recognise that such a phrase fails to distinguish between those seeking a peaceful solution in line with international law, and those, such as the current Israeli government, which is undermining efforts towards peace. The terminology has different meanings to different people and the simplistic language used does not reflect how I now think about this complex issue and I would not use it again today.” He went on to highlight the fact that the remarks had reportedly been made in 2014, before he had been elected as an MP, and insisted that he had been criticising Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and its “aggressive expansionist policies”, not speaking about Jewish people.
On May 9th 2019, however, he was questioned by journalist Emma Barnett on BBC’s Newsnight who further pointed out that in the course of his BBC interview with Andrew Neil on 28th March, he stated that he not only denied saying the words recorded on the film, but that he did not believe it. “You said, not only ‘I didn’t say that’, you said ‘I don’t believe that’. Why on earth should we believe anything you have to say when you outright lied?”
On 21st July 2019, when interviewed by the journalist Sophy Ridge, Mr Burgon expressed unequivocal support for Councillor Ali Milani, the Labour candidate challenging Boris Johnson in his Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency, whose antisemitic statements on social media, made between 2012 and 2013, had been the subject of a complaint to the Labour Party the previous year.
We do not know whether disciplinary action has been taken by the Labour Party against Mr Burgon, and at the time of writing, on 2nd December 2019, we have no record of any. However, the circumstances and outcomes of any such action would remain unknown, owing to the conditions of secrecy imposed by Baroness Chakrabarti’s report on antisemitism in the Labour Party.
In November 2019, Campaign Against Antisemitism put this matter to Mr Burgon, but did not receive a response.