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Controversy over Corbyn’s Holocaust memorial message

Campaigners demanded an apology after the Labour leader did not mention the Jews in his message.

Campaigners against anti-Semitism have called on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to apologise after he wrote a message for Holocaust Memorial Day which did not mention the Jews.

Writing in a Holocaust Educational Trust memorial book ahead of a service in Westminster on Thursday, Mr Corbyn said that “the millions who died” should never be forgotten.

The Campaign Against Antisemitism said his failure to specifically mention the Jewish people was “appalling”, while the Jewish Leadership Council said it displayed “a complete lack of sensitivity”.

But Labour insisted that it was clear that Mr Corbyn was referring to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

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

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

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

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.”

His message sparked controversy on social media, with some Twitter users comparing it with US President Donald Trump’s failure to mention the Jews in his Holocaust Memorial Day message in 2017.

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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.”

Jonathan Greenblatt, of the US-based Anti-Defamation League, said: “To omit any reference to Jews or anti-Semitism in your Holocaust remembrance statement is offensive to us and the millions murdered.

“Nazi ideology was rooted in hate and anti-Semitism. We can never forget that.”

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

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