Disgust as Labour MP claims Holocaust Memorial Day should recognise ‘Gaza genocide’

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Disgust as Labour MP claims Holocaust Memorial Day should recognise ‘Gaza genocide’

Kate Osamor wrote to party members in her Edmonton constituency to say she was adding 'Gaza' to the list of 'recent genocides' she was remembering on Holocaust Memorial Day

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Kate Osamor, the MP for Edmonton,
Kate Osamor, the MP for Edmonton,

A Labour MP has infuriated Jewish local party members after claiming “Gaza” should be added to a list of “recent genocides” to be remembered alongside the murder of six million Jews on Holocaust Memorial Day.

Kate Osamor, the MP for Edmonton, and a former frontbencher under Jeremy Corbyn, was photographed signing the Holocaust Educational Trust’s commemoration book in Westminster.

In her weekly mailout on Friday to local members in her north London constituency, the MP noted that Saturday is HMD, and said there was an “international duty to remember the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust” as will as the millions of others people murdered under Nazi persecution.

Then, listing the “more recent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia” to be remembered on HMD, Osamor wrote in the newsletter “and now Gaza”.

Karen Pollock, chief executive, Holocaust Educational Trust, responded to the MP’s comments telling Jewish News: “This disgusting post is a malicious distortion of the truth, a painful insult to survivors of the Holocaust and particularly distressing to see on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day.”

A Jewish Labour Movement spokesperson added: “This is wholly inappropriate. This week we have been commemorating the murder of six million Jews in the Holocaust – and those who perished in subsequent genocides, as listed by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust.

“Unilaterally co-opting the war in Gaza, despite the horrific suffering there, on to that list is wrong and offensive.”

The Jewish Leadership Council also confirmed they would be raising Osamor’s conduct with Labour.

Osamor continued in her mailout to say that in parliament she “took time” to “reflect on what it means to remember and honour the victims of genocide”.

The MP said the world had “united in 1945 to say ‘never again'”.

One Labour member in the MP’s north London seat told Jewish News on Friday: “There is nothing more offensive than equating the murder of six million Jews with the current conflict in Gaza.

“This is not the first problem with have had with Kate Osamor. It’s time the party took action and removed the whip. She really is a disgrace.”

HET’s chief executive Pollock said: “We welcome MPs from all political parties to pay their respects on Holocaust Memorial Day to the six million Jewish men, women and children murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators by signing our Book of Commitment in Parliament.

“If Kate Osamor cannot display decency, respect and a basic understanding of history then she is not welcome to join us. This disgusting post is a malicious distortion of the truth, a painful insult to survivors of the Holocaust and particularly distressing to see on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day.”

MP’s weekly letter to Labour members

Another Labour member confirmed to Jewish News they had logged a complaint to the party about the “and Gaza” message.

In her mailout, which appeared to have been sent on Labour Party software, Osamor wrote: “Tomorrow is Holocaust Memorial Day, an international day to remember the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, the millions of other people murdered under Nazi persecution of other groups and more recent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and now Gaza.

“In Parliament, I took time to sign the book of commemoration and reflect on what it means to remember and honour the victims of genocide. The world united in 1945 to say ‘never again’.

“We put in place international organisations, like the United Nations and the International Court of Justice to act as independent arbiters to prevent a repeat of past horrors.

“Yet those horrors have continued, and those international organisations are increasingly unable to act in the face of states who undermine their legitimacy. The world has rarely seemed less capable of preventing terrible atrocities and holding those who perpetrate them to account.

“So, this year on Holocaust Memorial Day I’ll be reflecting on these increasing challenges and the fight for a future in which the words ‘never again’ no longer ring hollow.”

Jeremy Corbyn is invited to speak to students at Labour MP Kate Osamor’s ‘political school’ event in Westminster (pic Facebook)

Last July Osamor sparked anger after inviting Jeremy Corbyn to address students at her “political summer school” event in Westminster and then proceeding to praise “the politics of hope he represents.”

The 54 year-old MP and Socialist Campaign Group member later wrote in a social media post of Corbyn’s involvement: “Really pleased to be joined by Jeremy Corbyn at my political summer school.

“Without exception the students remain inspired and excited by Jeremy and the politics of hope he represents.”

Osamor has served as the MP for the north London constituency since 2015, and was made Corbyn’s shadow international development secretary, but her time in parliament has also been dogged with controversy.

In October 2019 local members voted to deselect her, but this contest was scrapped by the leadership when a snap general election was called.

One year earlier it emerged that Osamor continued to employ her son, Ishmael, in her parliamentary office despite his drug-related convictions.

Osamor, who also lived with her son, was initially said by the party to have known nothing about his case until sentencing on 26 October, but it later emerged that she had written to the trial judge asking for leniency before his sentencing on 19 October.

She faced further criticism when it was revealed that she used parliamentary stationery and referenced her shadow cabinet position in writing to the judge.

After being doorstepped by a reporter from The Times about the issue, Osamor threw a bucket of water, and shouted: “I should have come down here with a…bat and smashed your face open”.

The Standards Commissioner found Osamor guilty of two breaches of parliamentary rules.Osamor accepted that she broke the rules and apologised to the Commissioner.

She later claimed she was “the target of a witch-hunt, and that race and class were factors”.

Jewish News has contacted Labour for comment.

Osamor tweeted on Friday night saying: “I apologise for any offence caused by my reference to the ongoing humanitarian disaster in Gaza.”

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