Kaufman blasted for ‘Nazi’ remark

Manchester MP Sir Gerald Kaufman

Manchester MP Sir Gerald Kaufman

Metro, the London freesheet, published an apology and changed the wording of a poll it ran on Monday which appeared to compare Israel with the Nazis.

The poll was based on comments made during a House of Commons debate on Gaza by Labour MP Sir Gerald Kaufman last week.

Sir Gerald, MP for Manchester Gorton, had said: “On Sky News a few days ago, the spokeswoman for the Israeli army, Major Leibovich, was asked about the Israeli killing of, at that time, 800 Palestinians—the total is now 1,000. She replied instantly that ‘500 of them were militants’.

“That was the reply of a Nazi. I suppose that the Jews fighting for their lives in the Warsaw ghetto could have been dismissed as militants.”

The poll asked whether Sir Gerald had been right to say this but did not make it clear whether it was asking whether the MP had the right to say that or whether the comparison itself was right.

Several hours after it had appeared on Metro’s website, the original text was replaced by another version accompanied an apology in which the paper admitted that it had made an “overzealous interpretation” of Sir Gerald’s remarks. The result was an overwhelming vote against the poll’s question comparing Israel to Nazis.

The Zionist Federation has condemned the MP for some of the statements he made during his speech and said it had received “many complaints” about him.

In a statement, the ZF said: “Sir Gerald’s allegation that the Israeli government ‘ruthlessly and cynically’ exploits ‘the continuing guilt among gentiles over the slaughter of Jews in the Holocaust’ is entirely without foundation and would be despicable on a far-right website, let alone from a senior parliamentarian.

“The only person who is exploiting the Holocaust to make a political point is Sir Gerald. There is an old saying that ‘with age comes wisdom’ but it seems that there are exceptions to every rule.”

The ZF deplored his likening of the Israeli army spokeswoman’s comment to that of a Nazi and described some of the MP’s other comments as “shameful falsehoods”.

    Last updated: 1:59pm, January 22 2009