Labour Leader Corbyn Backed Call to Replace 'Holocaust' With 'Genocide' for Official Memorial Day

Old videos also resurface of party leader praising release of Palestinian prisoners in 2011 Gilad Shalit swap and comparing blockade of Gaza to Siege of Leningrad

U.K. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn posing for a selfie with an attendee at the Labour Live festival in London, June 16, 2018.
Bloomberg

Another day, another set of stories about Jeremy Corbyn and comments on the Jewish community and Israel. 

On Wednesday, the Politics Home website reported that the U.K. Labour Party leader (at the time a backbencher) signed a parliamentary motion in 2011 calling for Holocaust Memorial Day to be renamed.

Corbyn backed a proposal by John McDonnell that Britain should rename the event Genocide Memorial Day – Never Again for Anyone. (McDonnell is now Corbyn's shadow chancellor in the opposition.) Further, the debate was slated to take place on Holocaust Memorial Day. 

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The motion – which was never actually debated in Parliament – argued that Genocide Memorial Day was a better reflection of the fact that "every life is of value," Politics Home noted.

The full motion declared: "This House welcomes the Never Again For Anyone Initiative by survivors and descendents [sic] of survivors of genocides, which declares that every life is of value; notes that disabled people were the first victims of Nazi mass murder, that working class activists and trade unionists, many of whom were Jewish, were the first to be sent to concentration camps, and that Nazism targeted not only Jewish but also Roma, Jehovah's Witnesses, lesbian, gay and bisexual people and others they deemed undesirables."

The motion was also backed by former actor Glenda Jackson (at the time a Labour lawmaker), while one Conservative MP, Peter Bottomley, also supported the motion.

Karen Pollock, chief executive of the HolocauOld videos also resurface of party leader praising release of Palestinian prisoners in 2011 Gilad Shalit swap and comparing blockade of Gaza to Siege of Leningradblst Educational Trust, tweeted in response to the story, "Holocaust Memorial Day already rightly includes all victims of the Nazis and subsequent genocides. But the Holocaust was a specific crime, with antisemitism at its core. Any attempt to remove that specificity is a form of denial and distortion."

Politics Home also quoted Pollock as saying, "This Parliamentary motion and the campaign it supported appear to be politically motivated and attempts to undermine a national day of remembrance that involves communities and educators of all backgrounds."

Also Wednesday, two historical videos surfaced (presumably following extensive research by British newspapers) in which Corbyn made controversial comments about Israel while he was a backbencher.

The Daily Mail reported Wednesday that Corbyn attended a protest rally outside the Israeli Embassy in London in 2010, during which he compared Israel's blockade of Gaza to the Siege of Leningrad during World War II, when the Nazis killed more than a million Russians.

"I was in Gaza three months ago," Corbyn told the assembled protesters. "I saw the mortar shells that had gone through the school buildings, the destroyed UN establishments, the burnt-out schools, the ruined homes, the destroyed lives, the imprisoned people, the psychological damage to a whole generation who've been imprisoned for as long as the Siege of Leningrad and Stalingrad took place. This is a war crime that is being undertaken – but this time on live television."

Palestinians crossing into the southern Gaza Strip after their release from Israeli prisons under a deal to free abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, October 2011.
AFP

Two years later, speaking on a show on Iranian television called "Remember Palestine," the Daily Express quoted him as praising the release of 1,027 Palestinian security detainees in the prisoner swap for kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in October 2011.

“Well, you have to ask the question why they’re in prison in the first place and you just realize that this mass imprisonment of Palestinians is actually part of a much bigger political game," Corbyn said.

“Cpl. Shalit apparently equals the lives of a very, very large number of Palestinian people," Corbyn continued. “Well, I’m glad that those that were released, were released, and I hope they’re now in safe places.” 

The Daily Mail quoted MP Joan Ryan, chairman of Labour Friends of Israel, as demanding an investigation into Corbyn's comments, which she reportedly called "beyond abhorrent."

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The latest Corbyn stories broke a day after he apologized for hosting an event on Holocaust Memorial Day in 2010 that compared the Israeli government to the Nazis. 

The Times of London reported Tuesday that Corbyn had hosted and spoke at an event at the House of Commons that was part of a U.K. tour called "Never Again for Anyone – Auschwitz to Gaza."

Rubin Katz, a Holocaust survivor who attended the event, told the Jewish Chronicle at the time that Corbyn had helped the police remove anti-racism protesters who were present. 

Katz related how "the event was slanted as anti-racist, but the room was brimming with raging hatred, directed at Israel and Jews not sharing the organizers' views.”

Corbyn has been at the center of a long-raging storm over alleged anti-Semitism in his party, with Britain's three leading Jewish newspapers recently issuing a joint warning of an "existential threat" to Jewish life in the United Kingdom if a Corbyn-led Labour wins the next parliamentary election.