A member of parliament for Britain’s Labour party on Tuesday apologized for calling in a 2014 Facebook post for Israel to be relocated to the US, and resigned her senior position as an aide to the shadow chancellor.
The post, which was publicized on Monday despite being shared by Naseem “Naz” Shah in 2014, drew angry responses from Jewish community leaders, who called for an “urgent” clarification.
Shah is a member of the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee, which is investigating the rise of anti-Semitism in Britain.
Shah, a lawmaker from Bradford West, located in Yorkshire in northern England, had shared a post of a graphic in which a small silhouette of the map of Israel is laid inside the map of the United States under a headline which reads “Solution for Israel-Palestine Conflict – Relocate Israel into United States.”
The graphic adds that: “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 that: “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, who is Muslim, added her status to the post: “Problem solved and save u bank charges for 3 billion pounds you transfer yearly.”
The post was shared in 2014, before Shah was elected to the British Parliament. It was first publicized on Monday on the Guido Fawkes British politics website. All of Shah’s Facebook posts from 2014 have since been deleted.
Shah released a statement Tuesday which 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.”
She also posted an apology on Twitter in which she announced she was stepping down from her position as parliamentary private secretary (PPS) to John McDonnell.
I am truly sorry and I will be putting out a more detailed explanation later. pic.twitter.com/x74FDKNCJE
— Naz Shah MP (@NazShahBfd) April 26, 2016
The publication of the post was met by angry denunciations from the UK’s umbrella Jewish body.
“Naz Shah’s comments about relocating Israelis to the United States are simply appalling,” said a Board of Deputies of British Jews spokesperson. “The Board of Deputies of British Jews has sought an urgent meeting for clarification of her views on Israel and the UK Jewish community.”
Unanswered letter we sent Naz Shah in Jan, on lethality of rock-throwing, following erroneous comments in Parliament pic.twitter.com/IC27q5K0wz
— Yiftah Curiel (@yiftahc) April 26, 2016
The Labour Party has declined to comment on the incident.
The party has come under fire in recent weeks amid a string of scandals involving alleged anti-Semitism.
Shah in the 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 those elections, Galloway had declared his district off-limits to Israelis, including tourists.
The Jewish Chronicle also reported on Tuesday that Shah posted a tweet in August 2014, with a link to a blog which 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.”
A spokesperson for the Israeli embassy in London said it had sent a letter to Shah in January, condemning remarks she made downplaying the effects of rock-throwing by Palestinian minors. The letter was not answered.
As part of its self-declared crackdown on anti-Semitism, Labour suspended this week the party membership of a columnist from Ireland who apparently said Israel was using the Holocaust to receive money.
John McAuliffe, an international member of the British party, columnist at Digital Journal and the Cambridge Globalist, was suspended after allegedly posting on Facebook a message in which he described the genocide as “the most useful political tool of the Zionist government in Israel to establish a financial racket in the West, whereby Israel receives an unlimited sum for the duration of its existence,” The Jewish News reported Monday.
In his Facebook post, McAuliffe wrote: “The large level of poverty in Israel among Holocaust survivors shows they don’t care about the emotional impact they are trying to generate. It is about money and military technology. This further paints a clearer picture of the divide between Zionism and Judaism, and their incompatibility.”
Another of the seven cases of anti-Semitism exposed within the party since March involved Vicki Kirby, a party activist who suggested on social media that Adolf Hitler might be a “Zionist god” and that Jews have “big noses.” She was suspended. In another, Aysegul Gurbuz, a London-area politician, was suspended and later resigned after her Twitter account was found to feature praise for Hitler and for Iran’s plans to “wipe Israel off the map.”
Jeremy Corbyn, who was elected Labour leader in September, told the BBC on April 11 that anyone making anti-Semitic statements “is auto-excluded from the party.” This policy was announced amid intense media scrutiny of Labour in connection with several incidents of hate speech against Jews, which critics trace back to Corbyn’s past support for enemies of Israel, including Hamas and Hezbollah. He has called activists for both anti-Semitic terrorist groups his “friends.”
Jonathan Arkush, the president of Britain Board of Jewish Deputies, recently said these cases along with Corbyn’s perceived inaction and his failure to distance himself from Hamas and Hezbollah, mean that most British Jews distrust Labour.
The Jewish Labour Movement has put forward a proposal to change Labour rules to make it easier to permanently exclude those who express anti-Semitic or Islamophobic sentiment.
Labour is also currently investigating claims of anti-Semitism at its Oxford University branch, allegations made by the branch’s former non-Jewish co-chairman who quit in protest at the society’s endorsement of Israeli Apartheid Week.