A rather nasty incident of anti-Semitism shook the hall of British Parliament when Naz Shah, a member of Parliment representing Bradford West, was forced to apologize over a Facebook post that showed her supporting the ethnic cleansing of Israel’s Jewish community. Labor Leader Jeremy Corbyn was also put in the crosshairs for failing to act promptly over this revelation. Shah has been suspended from taking part in any party activities pending an investigation into the matter (via the Guardian):
Jeremy Corbyn has caved in to pressure and suspended Naz Shah, the Bradford West MP, over remarks she made about Israel on Facebook.
Shortly before he faced David Cameron in the House of Commons on Wednesday afternoon Corbyn had issued a statement saying that he had accepted Shah’s “fulsome” apology for a series of posts from 2014 in which she appeared to endorse a suggestion that Israelis be deported to the United States.
Even after the prime minister said it was “extraordinary,” that she continued to hold the Labour whip, and accused the Labour leader of failing to get to grips with antisemitisim in his party, Corbyn’s aides defended Shah, saying the comments were antisemitic but the MP had “shocked herself,” and did not mean what she said.
But later in the day, Labour announced that the Bradford West MP had been suspended, “by mutual agreement,” while claims against her were investigated by the compliance committee of Labour’s national executive committee.
The allegations centre around a 2014 Facebook post, in which Shah shared a graphic of Israel’s outline superimposed on a map of the US under the headline “Solution for Israel-Palestine Conflict – Relocate Israel into United States”, with the comment: “Problem solved.”
Shah’s issued the following apology on Huffington Post UK, and addressed the House of Commons over the matter. Here’s part of her apology:
I am sorry.
For someone who knows the scourge of oppression and racism all too well it is important that I make an unequivocal apology for statements and ideas that I have foolishly endorsed in the past.
The manner and tone of what I wrote in haste is not excusable. With the understanding of the issues I have now I would never have posted them. I have to own up to the fact that ignorance is not a defence.
The language I used was wrong. It is hurtful. What's important is the impact these posts have had on other people. I understand that referring to Israel and Hitler as I did is deeply offensive to Jewish people for which I apologise.
When the 'Gaza-Israel' conflict happened I played an active role in highlighting the plight of the Palestinian people, attended demonstrations to stop the bombing and called for equality in media reporting of the issues. Feelings were running high across the world and Bradford was no different. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and I'm shocked myself at the language I used in some instances during the Gaza-Israel conflict. For this I apologise.
Yet, even Shah’s apology has been marred by controversy over allegations that her apology was edited to remove instances in which she acknowledged that the political left has an anti-Semitism problem (via the Telegraph):
Naz Shah, the MP for Bradford West, had prepared to issue an apology which contained a wide-ranging acknowledgement over the growing anti-Semitism which many fear is sweeping the Labour party.
However, according to BuzzFeed’s website, the apology was edited to remove all mentions of the term “anti-Semitic”, and references to wider problems of anti-Semitism in left-wing politics.
An apparent admission by Ms Shah of a widespread problem of anti-Semitism among left-wing campaigners and deep concerns about the spread of “toxic conspiracy theories, group-blame and stereotyping” was also deleted.
In the draft Ms Shah wrote: "We on the Left must stop procrastinating and tackle oppression within our own ranks, especially anti-Jewish oppression.” The sentence did not appear in the final published version.
The watered down statement, following a chaotic 24 hours, which saw him Mr Corbyn forced by the party’s general secretary Ian McNicol to suspend Ms Shah hours after declining to do so
The Telegraph has established that the apology was discussed with Seumas Milne, a Guardian journalist and the Labour leader’s director of communications.
He is understood to have “made changes” to the apology, according to sources, although it is not clear which they were. One said: “It definitely came into Jeremy’s office. There is no denying that Seumas saw it and made changes.”
On Wednesday night Labour MP John Mann said that claims the article was watered down were "outrageous". He added: "I have written to the General Secretary and the Leader's office demanding a full investigation.
“I have called for the person responsible to be sacked immediately should the allegations be proven.”
But Ms Shah’s comments were supported by former Labour mayor Ken Livingstone, who said: he had not heard anyone in the party make an ant-Semitic remark in the 47 years he has been a member.
He told LBC Radio: "No I don’t think her comments were anti-Semitic. This is an over the top comment about a horrendous conflict."
So, to say that Israel should be relocated to the U.S. isn’t anti-Semitic? It’s painfully explicit that he was referring to the Jewish community. That relocation is an act of ethnic cleansing, which is based on the mere fact that Jewish people live there. This isn’t a hill for anyone with half a brain to die on, nor is it worth the effort to twist oneself into a pretzel in articulating a defense. It’s blatant anti-Semitism. UK Prime Minister David Cameron addressed the matter as such during their questions period:
Here's Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Lisa Nandy calling for Shah to be suspended over these allegations. There is a policy in the Labour Party, where members who make such remarks are immediately suspended, along with an investigation into the matter.