A prominent member of Britain’s Labour party has apologized for spreading anti-Semitism online, four years after posting a video on Facebook that decried a purported “Israel-British-Swiss-Rothschilds crime syndicate.”
Shadow immigration minister Afzal Khan apologized during an interview with the BBC late last week for his 2015 post, which featured American Jewish comedian Jon Stewart and had been captioned with text referring to “mass murdering Rothschilds Israeli mafia criminal liars.”
In 2008 Khan received a high national honor, the CBE, for his community and interfaith work, and is co-founder of the Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester.
“I am mortified and sincerely sorry about this genuine accident,” Khan told the British broadcaster. “I didn’t read the text below, which contained an anti-Semitic conspiracy about the Rothschilds. I would never have shared it if I had seen that.”
The Labour Against Anti-Semitism movement has called for Khan’s expulsion from the party.
This is not the first time that Khan’s rhetoric has come to the attention of British Jews. In 2016, Jewish groups and lawmakers called on the Labour Party to suspend him after it was revealed that he had compared Israel to the Nazis.
“The Israeli government are acting like Nazi’s [sic] in Gaza,” Kahn tweeted in August 2014, during Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza. He later told the Jewish Chronicle that his opponents were using the incident in order to “smear” him and that he had deleted the tweet.
Last week, a poll conducted on behalf of the Times of London found that support for Labour head Jeremy Corbyn has fallen significantly among party members, partly in response to the anti-Semitism crisis that has developed under his leadership.
Two-fifths of Labour members want Corbyn, who has led the party since 2015, to resign before the next general election while fully a quarter demand that he step down immediately.
Labour has grappled with anti-Semitism in its ranks since the far-left Corbyn was elected party chief in 2015, with fresh scrutiny coming after a number of former party officials accused him and his allies of interfering in efforts to address the issue, in a BBC program aired earlier this month.
One former Labour official interviewed by the BBC accused Corbyn of having “done more than anyone in modern political history to bring about the rise of anti-Semitism” and described how interference with his efforts to deal with the problem almost drove him to suicide.
The party has been subject to an ongoing investigation by the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission, a government watchdog that is looking into thousands of cases of anti-Semitic hate speech in the party’s ranks since 2015.