UK’s Labour suspends lawmaker for Facebook post calling for Israel’s relocation


(JTA) — A British Parliament member who in a 2014 Facebook post called for relocating the entire State of Israel to the United States has been suspended from the Labour Party.

Naz Shah, who is Muslim, was suspended Wednesday by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn a day after she resigned from her post as private secretary to the Parliament’s shadow chancellor. Pending an investigation, Shah is “unable to take part in any party activity,” a Labour spokesman was quoted as saying in the Jewish News.

Shah published an apology in the Jewish News on Wednesday after previously apologizing for any offense she had caused with her post.

Her suspension comes amid increasing complaints about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. It also comes a week after Malia Bouattia, a Muslim woman who is fiercely critical of Israel, was elected president of Britain’s national student union.

Shah was elected to represent the Bradford West region in Parliament last year and, according to the New York Times, has been “considered a rising star in the Labour Party.” In August 2014, during Israel’s war with Gaza, she shared on Facebook a graphic of a map of Israel superimposed on a map of the United States with the text: “Solution for Israel-Palestine Conflict – Relocate Israel into United States” and the comment “problem solved.”

The post noted that the U.S. had “plenty of land” to make Israel a “51st state,” thereby permitting Palestinians to “get their life and their land back.” The Guido Fawkes website publicized the post earlier this week along with another post in which Shah compared Israeli policies to policies of Nazi Germany.

In her apology, which was published before her suspension, Shah said, “I understand that referring to Israel and Hitler as I did is deeply offensive to Jewish people for which I apologise.”

She explained that during the August 2014 war, “feelings were running high across the world,” and she is now “shocked myself at the language I used in some instances during the Gaza-Israel conflict.”

Jeremy Newmark, chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, told the Jewish News, “In suspending Naz, the party has acted fairly and consistently.” Shah’s “contrition over the past day seems to be genuine and sincere,” he said, adding, “We are optimistic that she will now take steps to deepen her understanding of Jewish identity.

“We do not ask or expect her to mute her criticism of the actions and policies of the Israeli government. We do ask and expect her to build upon her apology and contrition with a program of education and action that includes standing up to anti-Semitism on the left and within the Palestine Solidarity Movement.”

Labour Friends of Israel chair Joan Ryan told the Jewish News: “This incident underlines yet again the need for the Labour Party to take urgent action to combat anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism in all its forms.”

In her Jewish News apology, Shah noted that as a member of Parliament, “I have made conscious efforts in areas around integration, building bridges and community development, in particular around Muslim and Jewish relations. Indeed one of my very first visits was to my local synagogue.

Shah noted that last week, she attended an interfaith Passover seder that included the Reform movement’s senior rabbi, Laura Janner-Klausner, and the vice chair of Conservative Friends Of Israel, Andrew Percy, at Janner-Klausner’s home.

“We all read from the Haggadah and learnt more about Passover,” she said.

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