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Apology offered to Corbyn amid controversy over Holocaust comments

The Labour leader was criticised by campaigners for not mentioning Jews in his memorial message.

The controversy was over the Labour leader’s message for Holocaust Memorial Day (Aaron Chown/PA)
The controversy was over the Labour leader’s message for Holocaust Memorial Day (Aaron Chown/PA)

A senior member of Britain’s Jewish community has offered an apology to Jeremy Corbyn amid controversy over the Labour leader’s message for Holocaust Memorial Day.

Campaigners against anti-Semitism responded with outrage after it emerged that Mr Corbyn’s entry in a Holocaust Educational Trust (HET) memorial book did not mention Jews.

The Campaign Against Antisemitism demanded an apology from the Labour leader, describing his message as “appalling”, while the Jewish Leadership Council said it displayed “a complete lack of sensitivity”.

But Labour insisted it was clear that Mr Corbyn was referring to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust when he said that “the millions who died” should be remembered.

Here is the message I have written in the Holocaust Educational Trust memorial book ahead of the service I am attending…

Posted by Jeremy Corbyn on Thursday, January 25, 2018

A longer message from the Labour leader, printed in a booklet for a Westminster service of commemoration, referred by name to Jewish Holocaust victims, including Anne Frank, as “our Jewish brothers and sisters”.

Among critics of Mr Corbyn on Thursday was the editor of the Jewish Chronicle, Stephen Pollard, who was one of several Twitter users to draw a comparison with a similar message last year by Donald Trump.

But after seeing the longer passage, Mr Pollard deleted his tweet, saying that the Labour leader’s words were “admirable”, and adding: “I owe Jeremy Corbyn an apology. His HMD statement on the day did not mention Jews. But this statement in the brochure clearly does.”

In the HET memorial book, Mr Corbyn wrote: “We should never forget the Holocaust: The millions who died, the millions displaced and cruel hurt their descendants have suffered.

“We should understand the way fascism arose in Germany and the circumstances that gave space for the Nazis to grow.

“At this, and at all other times, we should reflect and make sure succeeding generations understand the power of words.

“Their power to do immense good and inspire; and their power to promote hate and division.

“Let us use their power to educate, to inspire, but above all to build values of trust and respect.”

Simon Johnson, chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, said: “It is hard to believe anybody can neglect to mention Jews when writing a Holocaust Memorial Day message, let alone the Leader of the Opposition.

“Mr Corbyn displays a complete lack of sensitivity to those who survived the atrocities of the Holocaust and its impact on the Jewish community.”

A spokesman for the Campaign Against Antisemitism described it as “a disgraceful forgetting at a ceremony purposed for remembering”, adding: “We call on Mr Corbyn to apologise and issue a new statement.”

A Labour source said: “Jeremy was clearly referring to the millions of Jewish victims of the Holocaust and their descendants.”

The source pointed out that neither Prime Minister Theresa May nor Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable mentioned the Jews in their own messages.



From Belfast Telegraph