Naz Shah MP was today suspended by the Labour Party following an anti-Semitism controversy in which it was revealed that the Bradford West MP had made a series of anti-Semitic social media posts, including one which called on Israelis to be “relocated” to the United States.
Ms Shah had been at the centre of anti-Semitism claims for a second day, as new details emerged this morning of social media posts she made arguing that terror group Hamas is a “legitimate resistance movement”, as well as her employment of an anti-Semitic parliamentary aide.
In July 2014, Ms Shah tweeted a statement from Osama Hamdan, the head of international relations for Hamas, in which he argued that Hamas is a “legitimate resistance movement”. In the same year, the Bradford West MP promoted an article about a contested EU court ruling that Hamas should be removed from the terror list.
Today, the Labour Party announced that the Bradford Councillor, Mohammed Shabbir, who was employed by Naz Shah MP as a parliamentary aide, has been suspended from the party over anti-Semitic social media posts he had made. Mr Shabbir had sent tweets which referred to a “Palestinian Holocaust in Gaza” and repeatedly used the epithet “Zio”.
In one August 2014 tweet, Mr Shabbir wrote: “Here is a question – is Isis serving a purpose to create a pretext for Israel to invade Syria and Iraq. Has quest for greater Israel started”.
According to a report by the Guido Fawkes website, Ms Shah and Cllr Shabbir are close friends, the pair have been photographed together regularly and have worked together for years. The website states that Ms Shah repeatedly promoted Cllr Shabbir’s website on her Twitter page and regularly shares his tweets.
In an initial statement released by Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn this morning, he defended the Bradford West MP, stating: “These are historic social media posts made before she was a Member of Parliament”. He added: “Naz has issued a fulsome apology. She does not hold these views and accepts she was completely wrong to have made these posts”.
However, this afternoon, the Labour Party announced that Ms Shah was to be suspended from the party by the General Secretary: “Pending investigation, she is unable to take part in any party activity and the whip is removed”.
The suspension followed widespread outcry from the Prime Minister, Conservative MPs, the Jewish community, and within the Labour Party itself.
In PMQs, Prime Minister David Cameron said it was “extraordinary” that Labour had not removed the whip from Naz Shah MP following the emergence the anti-Semitic remarks. Responding to a question on anti-Semitism by Conservative MP Suella Fernandes, the Prime Minister said: “the fact that frankly we’ve got a Labour Member of Parliament with the Labour Whip who made remarks about the ‘transportation’ of people from Israel to America and talked about a ‘solution’ and is still in receipt of the Labour Whip is quite extraordinary”.
The Prime Minister brought up the Labour Shadow Chancellor’s assertion earlier this month in which he promised Labour would permanently kick out people with anti-Semitic views from the Party: “Let me just tell you what the Shadow Chancellor said about these people: ‘Out out out. If people express these views full stop, they’re out. People might be able to reform their views and the rest of it… on this, I can’t see it, I’m not having it. People might say I’ve changed my views, well do something in another organisation’. And frankly, there will be enough hours in the day until that happens to the MP in question”.
The Prime Minister underlined: “I think it is very simple. Anti-Semitism is effectively racism and we should call it out and fight it wherever we see it”.
Following widespread condemnation, Ms Shah resigned yesterday as Labour Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell’s PPS, and her position on the Home Affairs Select Committee is now in question. The Committee is currently investigating anti-Semitism in the UK.
CFI Parliamentary Chairman, Rt. Hon. Sir Eric Pickles MP, today called for Naz Shah MP to be removed from the Home Affairs Select Committee. Sir Eric said: “The Home Affairs Select Committee’s investigation into the evils of anti-Semitism is timely and very important. The findings of Select Committees are rightly respected and trusted. Naz Shah MP’s membership of the Home Affairs Select Committee risks fundamentally undermining and discrediting its investigation before it has even begun. Expert witnesses giving evidence to the Committee will question whether they will receive a fair hearing in her presence and sadly, whatever the findings, its conclusions will be fatally compromised. The only way Naz Shah should come into contact with the Home Affairs Select Committee investigation is as a witness herself”.
In the House of Commons today, Naz Shah MP issued an apology for the comments. She said: “I have made mistakes”, and added that “anti-Semitism is racism”. Ms Shah said she accepted her remarks had caused offence to the Jewish community, and that Jewish friends and colleagues had offered advice which she would act on.
The Bradford West MP also issued an apology to the Jewish community which was published in the Jewish News.
According to a report by Buzzfeed, Ms Shah’s initial draft apology was doctored by Labour head office to remove all mentions of “anti-Semitism”.
The site claimed that in her original statement, she had intended to say: “I accept that referencing Israel in a comparison to Nazi Germany was not only wrong, but totally inaccurate. My other social media posts were also deeply offensive to Jewish people.” But her eventual statement said: “I understand that referring to Israel and Hitler as I did is deeply offensive to Jewish people for which I apologise”. A Labour spokesperson denied the claims made by Buzzfeed were true.
Yesterday, in the most high-profile incident yet of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, it emerged that Bradford West MP Naz Shah called for the State of Israel to be removed from the Middle East and “relocated” to the United States, in a series of controversial social media posts and posted an article which likened Zionism to Al Qaeda.
In a Facebook post dating from 5th August 2014, uncovered by the Guido Fawkes blog and since deleted, the Labour MP shared a graphic arguing for the “transportation” of the Israeli population out of the Middle East and into the US. She claimed in the post that the “transportation costs” of deporting Israelis would be “less than 3 years of defence spending”.
In another anti-Semitic posting, Ms Shah urged people on Facebook to back suggestions Israel was “committing war crimes” in a poll in 2014 and said that “the Jews are rallying” to vote. Another report revealed that Ms Shah had made Facebook post comparing Israelis to Hitler.