Jeremy Corbyn has said that being labelled antisemitic was 'painful'.
He insisted he is not antisemitic after former chief rabbi Lord Sacks compared his remarks regarding a group of British Zionists with Mr Powell's incendiary 1968 'Rivers of Blood' speech.
The Labour leader told Holyrood magazine: "I have found these accusations very painful because my whole life has been about opposing racism and I saw at first-hand in Jamaica the hurt inflicted by Powell's words.
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"I was in Jamaica when Enoch Powell made his 'Rivers of Blood' speech.
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"When the speech came through, there were a lot of people in Jamaica, quite rightly, very, very angry.
"I was teaching in a school where we had facilities to listen to the speech and we read about it, and the reaction was enormous."
'Fighting racism has been my life'
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Corbyn recalled that some of children he had been teaching that day "wanted to make sure I got home alright because a lot of people were very angry, and they didn't want me blamed".
"They were right to be angry about Powell. Fighting racism, it's been my life and now I represent, and have done for a very long time, a very multicultural mixed society and I'm very proud to represent it."
Lord Sacks remarks came after footage from 2013 emerged of Mr Corbyn attacking a group of British Zionists who had criticised Palestinian ambassador Manuel Hassassian.
Corbyn said: "They clearly have two problems. One is they don't want to study history, and secondly, having lived in this country for a very long time, probably all of their lives, they don't understand English irony either."
Lord Sacks said: "The recently disclosed remarks by Jeremy Corbyn are the most offensive statement made by a senior British politician since Enoch Powell's 1968 'Rivers of Blood' speech.
"It was divisive, hateful and like Powell's speech, it undermines the existence of an entire group of British citizens by depicting them as essentially alien."