U.K. Labour Suspends MP Naz Shah for anti-Israel Social Media Posts

After seesawing on the issue, Jeremy Corbyn's party ousts MP Naz Shah after an uproar over a Facebook post that suggested moving Israel to the U.S. and comparing Israeli policies to those of Hitler.

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Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn listening in parliament following a statement by British Prime Minister David Cameron, April 11, 2016.
Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn listening in parliament following a statement by British Prime Minister David Cameron, April 11, 2016.Credit: AFP

Britain's main opposition Labour Party has suspended lawmaker Naz Shah for making anti-Israel posts on social media before she was elected to Parliament.

The party says Shah is barred from taking part in the party's activities.

Shah has faced strong criticism for comments, including a 2014 Facebook post in which she shared a graphic that showed the outline of Israel superimposed on a map of the U.S. under the headline "Solution for Israel-Palestine Conflict - Relocate Israel into United States."

Labour MP Naz Shah as photographed on her Facebook page.Credit: Facebook

Shah "wholeheartedly" apologized Wednesday for comments that "caused upset and hurt to the Jewish community." She had already resigned as an aide to Labour economy spokesman John McDonnell.

But Jewish groups and some Labour supporters say leader Jeremy Corbyn hasn't done enough to clamp down on anti-Semitism in the party.

Labour said, in a statement carried by British media: "Jeremy Corbyn and Naz Shah have mutually agreed that she is administratively suspended from the Labour Party by the general secretary.

"Pending investigation, she is unable to take part in any party activity and the whip is removed."

Mark Regev, Israel's ambassador to the U.K., said in response: "What is needed is a willingness to make peace with Israel and not delusional fantasies about a Middle East without Israel."

Earlier on Wednesday Corbyn had rejected calls from Prime Minister David Cameron and from within his own Labour party to force Shah out, after an uproar arose over these posts on Tuesday, when they were resurfaced by the right-wing Guido Fawkes website.

Cameron emarked it was "quite extraordinary" that a lawmaker continue to serve as Labour's whip after suggesting Israelis be deported to the U.S.Despite her apologies.

Shah's case grew even more complicated on Wednesday when a new accusation surfaced against her in the Jewish Chronicle which said that she had employed an aide named Mohammed Shabbir as a member of her staff, who has posted tweets about a "Palestinian Holocaust in Gaza."

Corbyn initially rejected calls to dismiss Shah but said that what she did was "offensive and unacceptable. I have spoken to her and made this clear. These are historic social media posts made before she was a member of parliament."

“The Labour party is implacably opposed to antisemitism and all forms of racism," Corbyn added.

In a lengthy letter of apology carried by the Jewish News website before her dismissal, Shah wrote:

"I am sorry. For someone who knows the scourge of oppression and racism all too well, it is important that I make an unequivocal apology for statements and ideas that I have foolishly endorsed in the past," Shah wrote in a full-length letter published by Jewish News website.

"The manner and tone of what I wrote in haste is not excusable. The language I used was wrong. It is hurtful. What’s important is the impact these posts have had on other people. I understand that referring to Israel and Hitler as I did is deeply offensive to Jewish people for which I apologize.

Shah added that "when the 'Gaza-Israel' conflict happened I played an active role in highlighting the plight of the Palestinian people, attended demonstrations to stop the bombing and called for equality in media reporting of the issues.

"Feelings were running high across the world and Bradford was no different. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and I’m shocked myself at the language I used in some instances during the Gaza-Israel conflict. For this I apologize," Shah said.

Shah also pledged she would be "stepping up my efforts to combat all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism.”

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