British Labour lawmaker apologizes for call to relocate Israelis to US


(JTA) — A British Labour Party lawmaker who apologized for “for any offense” caused by a Facebook post in 2014 that called for the relocation of Israelis to the United States has resigned her post as private secretary to a shadow chancellor.

Naz Shah, a lawmaker from Bradford West, located in Yorkshire in northern England, also promised Tuesday to expand her dialogue with the Jewish community and work to combat all forms of anti-Semitism. She will stay on as a member of Parliament, where she serves on the House of Commons’ Home Affairs Committee investigating the rise of anti-Semitism in Britain.

In the post from two years ago Shah, who is Muslim, showed a graphic in which a small silhouette of the map of Israel is laid inside the map of the United States under a headline that reads “Solution for Israel-Palestine Conflict — Relocate Israel into United States.”

The graphic adds: “America has plenty of land to accommodate a 51st state”; “the transportation cost will be less than 3 years of defense spending,” and “Palestinians will get their land and life back.” It also says: “Middle East will again be peaceful without foreign interference”; and “Oil prices will go down, inflation will go down, whole world will be happy.”

Shah added her status to the post: “Problem solved and save u bank charges for 3 billion pounds you transfer yearly.”

The post was shared before Shah was elected to the Parliament. It was first publicized Monday on the Guido Fawkes British politics website. All of Shah’s Facebook posts from 2014 have since been deleted.

In a statement Tuesday, Shah said: “This post from two years ago was made before I was an MP, does not reflect my views and I apologize for any offense it has caused.”

Later the same day she announced her resignation from the appointed private secretary post. She remains a member of Parliament.

“I made these posts at the height of the Gaza conflict in 2014, when emotions were running high around the Middle East conflict. But that is no excuse for the offense I have given, for which I unreservedly apologize. In recognition of that offense, I have stepped down from my role as PPS to the shadow chancellor John McDonnell,” Shah wrote in announcing her resignation.

“I will be seeking to expand my existing engagement and dialogue with Jewish community organisations and will be stepping up my efforts to combat all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism.”

The Labour Party has declined to comment on the incident to British media, including the Guido Fawkes website. The party has come under fire in recent weeks amid a string of party scandals involving alleged anti-Semitism.

Shah in May 2015 elections defeated incumbent George Galloway, the leader of the tiny Respect Party who is known for his strident anti-Israel rhetoric. Prior to the elections, Galloway had declared his district off-limits to Israelis, including tourists.

The Jewish Chronicle also reported Tuesday that Shah posted a tweet in August 2014 with a link to a blog that claims Zionism has been used to “groom” Jews to “exert political influence at the highest levels of public office,” and which compared Zionism to al-Qaida. The article, titled “Colonization, Israel, Palestinian resistance and …,” from a blog called Walk Together, claimed Zionism, “like Al Qaeda, was and is a political movement layered with religious symbolism.”

In July 2014, during Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza, Shah posted a link on Facebook to a newspaper poll asking whether Israel had committed war crimes, according to the Jewish Chronicle. She wrote: “The Jews are rallying to the poll,” and called on her followers to vote “yes.”

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