Fury as 'Israel exploits Holocaust' activist appears at Shoah event

Yvonne Ridley appeared alongside a local Labour MP at a UCU-organised memorial in Newcastle on Friday


An anti-Israel activist has been accused of using Holocaust Memorial Day to “whitewash previous promotion of antisemitism” after she spoke at an event in Newcastle.

Yvonne Ridley, a journalist who has previously called for Zionists to be “hunted down” and accused Israel of exploiting the Holocaust, appeared alongside a local Labour MP and a host of other speakers at Newcastle College on Friday.

The memorial, co-ordinated by the local branch of the University and College Union (UCU), used official Holocaust Memorial Day material, and used its name and logo in social media promotions.

It is believed that Newcastle Unites, a left-wing community group, also had involvement in the coordination of the event.

Liz Twist, the MP for Blaydon, later said the decision to appear alongside Ms Ridley was a “mistake”, expressing regret for “the distress it has caused the Jewish community”.

She told the JC: "I absolutely agree with the comments made by Olivia Marks-Woldman of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and can understand the anger in the UK Jewish community.

"It is absolutely right that Holocaust Memorial Day must be a day on which we learn from this genocide and work together to create a better future and not a time to whitewash or distort those terrible events.
"It was clearly a mistake on my part to take part in an event at which Yvonne Ridley was speaking, given her views, and I deeply regret that and the distress it has caused the Jewish community.
"I can’t undo that, but I want to say very clearly that I will continue to do all I can to oppose and challenge anti-semitism wherever it occurs."


Ms Ridley, a frequent guest on Press TV, has previously described Israel as a “disgusting little watchdog of America that is festering in the Middle East”, and has repeatedly compared it to the Nazis.

Olivia Marks-Woldman, the chief executive of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, said: “The purpose of Holocaust Memorial Day is to bring people together in order to learn from genocide – to create a better future.

“It is an abuse of Holocaust Memorial Day to cause distress and offence to Holocaust survivors and to members of the Jewish community, to use it as an opportunity to whitewash previous promotion of, or tolerance of, antisemitism and Holocaust distortion.

“On Holocaust Memorial Day, it is important to remember those affected by genocides which took place after the Holocaust too, and the day is an opportunity to sensitively and appropriately reflect on contemporary intolerance, hostility and identity-based prejudice.”

Gabe Milne, the president of the Sheffield University Jewish Society, posted a tweet accusing Ms Ridley of being antisemitic, adding: "It's disgusting that she has been allowed to speak at a Holocaust Memorial Day event.

“It's awful that [Newcastle College UCU] invited her and I'm really disappointed that [Liz Twist] has shared a platform with her.”

Ms Ridley insisted that she has “never deliberately made antisemitic comments”, adding that “pro-Israel supporters do not like me”.

She said: “They have their views, and I have mine.”

Ms Marks-Woldman also criticised the UCU for organising an event which “did not have commemoration of the Holocaust at its heart”.


Topics discussed by speakers included “growing up in Lebanon and challenging the rise of the far right”; the genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar; the Rwandan genocide; and “challenging racism and fascism” in Newcastle.

Newcastle College distanced itself from the event, saying it was “organised by UCU representatives, independently of the college”.

The UCU said: “UCU is proud of its work to tackle discrimination and antisemitism, and to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day, both nationally and locally.

“I understand that yesterday’s event at Newcastle College was organised by our branch with the help of resources which are freely available from the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust website, as well as UCU’s own suite of award-winning resources for members.”

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