Jewish communal leaders have called on the Labour party to suspend the MP Kate Osamor after she apologised for saying “Gaza” should be added to a list of “recent genocides” when taking part in remembrance for Holocaust Memorial Day.
The Board of Deputies dismissed her subsequent apology as “utterly hollow”.
Kate Osamor, the MP for Edmonton, sent local party members an email on Friday pointing out that it was HMD on Saturday.
Osamor said she thought there was an “international duty to remember the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust.”
She went on to list the “more recent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia” to be remembered on HMD, adding that there was one also happening “in Gaza.”
A Board of Deputies statement condemned “the attempts by Kate Osamor to link the Holocaust to the current situation in Gaza. The industrialised mass murder of six million Jews is in no way comparable to Israel’s efforts to uproot Hamas from Gaza.
“We believe Ms Osamor was perfectly aware of what she was saying and therefore view her apology as utterly hollow. We call for the Labour Party to immediately remove the whip.”
The London Jewish Forum also condemned the MP’s comments. It said Osamor had “insulted the Holocaust survivors who so bravely share their testimony.
“Kate Osamor’s apology is too little too late, she should be suspended from the PLP whilst this incident is properly investigated.”
Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust described Osamor’s statement as a “disgusting malicious distortion of the truth.”
She said it was “a painful insult to survivors of the Holocaust and particularly distressing to see on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day.”
A spokesman for the Jewish Labour Movement said: “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.”
Osamor tweeted an apology on Friday night saying: “I apologise for any offence caused by my reference to the ongoing humanitarian disaster in Gaza.”
In hermail to party members Osamor said that she had taken “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’.”
One Jewish constituent in the MP’s north London seat told the JC on Sunday: “There is nothing more disgusting than comparing the industrial and planned murder of six million Jews with the current conflict in Gaza.
“Her apology is hollow and insincere. No one who holds those views should be anywhere near public office. And they certai nly can’t claim to represent their Jewish constituents fairly.”