LONDON (JTA) – British Jews welcomed the reinstatement of a Labour lawmaker who apologized for suggesting Israeli Jews should be moved en masse to America.
Naz Shah was re-admitted into the party two months after she was suspended for a comment she made on social media two years ago. She was one of at least 20 Labour figures who had been either suspended or kicked out of the party amid intense public scrutiny over the proliferation of anti-Semitic and vitriolic anti-Israel rhetoric after the 2014 election of Jeremy Corbyn to lead the party.
“Of all those suspended by the Labour Party for antisemitic actions, Naz Shah stands out as someone who has been prepared to apologize to the Jewish community at a local and national level, and make efforts to learn from her mistakes,” the Board of Deputies of British Jews wrote in a statement Tuesday. “In that regard, her reinstatement today seems appropriate and we would hope for no repeat of past errors.”
During a visit in May to a synagogue in Leeds, Shah told an audience that she wanted to make a “real apology” rather than a “politician’s apology.” She said: “I looked at myself and asked whether I had prejudice against Jewish people. But I realized I was ignorant and I want to learn about the Jewish faith and culture. I do not have hatred for Jewish people.”
Shah, on of nine Muslims in Parliament, was suspended for sharing a post on Facebook suggesting Israel’s Jews should be relocated to the US and tweeting the hashtag “#IsraelApartheid” and a quote saying, “Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.”
Corbyn, a left-wing activist who has called Hamas and Hezbollah his friends and recently seemed to compare Israel with the Islamic State terrorist group, on Monday said he was sorry for his 2009 endorsement of Hamas.
During a House of Commons Home Affairs Committee hearing on anti-Semitism, Corbyn disputed the assertion that Hamas is anti-Semitic but conceded it after a lawmaker quoted to him from the Hamas charter, which speaks of killing Jews.
“Ken Livingstone made remarks that are wholly unacceptable and wrong,” Corbyn also said when asked about the former Labour mayor, who in May said Adolf Hitler was a Zionist. He has doubled down on this assertion, which led to his suspension from Labour.
Corbyn rejected a question about whether he was fostering an atmosphere of anti-Semitism in the Labor Party that he heads.
“That is unfair. I want a party that is open for all,” Corbyn asserted. “A long time ago there were sometimes anti-Semitic remarks made, when I first joined the party and later on. In recent years, no, and in my constituency not at all.”
Jonathan Sacerdoti, director of communications at the volunteer-led Campaign Against Antisemitism, said “Corbyn’s evidence given to the Parliamentary inquiry was totally inadequate. It will only further worry British Jews.”
Separately, several thousand pro-Palestinian protestors on Sunday marched through London on Sunday during Al Quds day, an annual event held on the last Friday of the Muslim holy period of Ramadan to express support for the Palestinians and opposition to Israel.
This year, the protesters, some of whom were carrying flags of Hezbollah and Hamas, were for the first time met by a counter-demonstration in support of Israel outside the US Embassy.
A few hundred pro-Israel demonstrators echanged words with the marchers while lines of police kept them physically separated.