Britain’s Labour Party suspended a senior activist close to recently reelected leader Jeremy Corbyn after she said that the national day to honor the victims of the Holocaust should not be solely about Jews.
The Guardian on Friday quoted Labour as saying that while it did not comment on individual memberships, it is understood that Walker was suspended.
“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Holocaust Remembrance Day was open to all people who’ve experienced holocaust?” Jackie Walker, who was previously suspended for anti-Jiewsh remarks, on Monday told a Labour training session on how to confront anti-Semitism and engage Jewish voters. Her recorded comments appeared Wednesday on the Huffington Post.
When attendees at the session — which was organized by the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) at the annual party conference in Liverpool — told her that the day did in fact include non-Jewish victims, Walker said that “in practice it is not circulated and advertised as such.”
Walker’s comments were denounced by Labour MP John Mann, who said they were “unacceptable in a modern political party.”
But she was defended by former London mayor Ken Livingstone, who has also been suspended for his own comments about Hitler.
“I suspect you’ll find the majority of people in Britain didn’t know the Holocaust Memorial Day had been widened to include others,” the former mayor told the Press Association, according to the Guardian. “There’s a difference between ignorance and anti-Semitism,” he said.
Walker told attendees that she had come “seeking information,” and that she still had not heard “a definition of anti-Semitism that I can work with.”
She also questioned the need for security at Jewish institutions, implying that attacks against them were not caused by anti-Semitism.
“I was a bit concerned… at your suggestions that the Jewish community is under such threat that they have to use security in all its buildings,” she said, according to the Huffington Post.
Walker, a vice chair of Momentum — an organization aimed at helping Corbyn and Labour to win the next elections — suggested that there was a “Catch-22” situation whereby people who denied being anti-Semitic opened themselves to being accused of anti-Semitism.
Jeremy Newmark, the chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, called for Walker to resign over the comments, the Daily Telegraph reported Wednesday.
Walker, who says both she and her partner have Jewish ancestors, was suspended and then reinstated in May after comments she made on Facebook.
On Sunday, Walker claimed accusations of anti-Semitism were being “exaggerated” and “weaponized” to undermine Corbyn.
Corbyn has faced allegations that he has not done enough to counter hate speech directed against Jews.