UK Labour MP suspended over Holocaust Memorial Day post that included Gaza

UK Labour MP suspended over Holocaust Memorial Day post that included Gaza
The Labour Party is set to investigate British MP Kate Osamor following a post that said Gaza should be remembered as a genocide on Holocaust Memorial Day.
4 min read
30 January, 2024
Labour suspends MP Kate Osamor over Gaza remarks in Holocaust message [Getty]

British Labour MP Kate Osamor has had the whip suspended while under investigation for a post that included Gaza on a list of genocides on Holocaust Memorial Day. 

The Edmonton MP's statement posted to X stressed the importance of Holocaust Memorial Day but also highlighted recent genocides.

"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,” she wrote. 

The former shadow development secretary also shared a photograph of herself signing the Westminster remembrance book of the Holocaust Educational Trust. 

Palestinians have described Israel's assault on Gaza - which has killed nearly 27,000 people and led to the uprooting of almost the entire population - as a genocide, while the International Criminal Court last week called on Israel to prevent genocidal acts there.

However, Osamor later issued an apology in a post on X following a backlash from supporters of Israel.

"Holocaust Memorial Day is a day to remember the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust and the genocides that have occurred since. I apologise for any offence caused by my reference to the ongoing humanitarian disaster in Gaza as part of that period of remembrance," Osamor said on X. 

Osamor is set to meet with Labour officials later this week, following a discussion with the chief whip regarding her comments, according to senior party officials.

“What is happening in Gaza is clearly a humanitarian catastrophe that is recognised," Shadow Business Secretary Jonathan Reynolds. told Sky News.

"But there are specific reasons why the Holocaust is considered as it is. It’s important on Holocaust Remembrance Day to remember that. 

Today is #HolocaustMemorialDay, when we come together and remember all those murdered during the Holocaust and Nazi persecution of other groups. Also we never forget those killed in other genocides that followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia Darfur

— Kate Osamor Labour & Co-op MP for Edmonton (@KateOsamor) January 27, 2024

"And I understand Kate has apologised. There’s been a conversation with the chief whip. There’ll be further conversations next week, but of course we take anything in this space extremely seriously."

The New Arab approached Osamor and the Labour Party for comment, but did not receive a response at the time of publication. 

Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, media officer f0r Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL), said Osamor’s remarks were "thoughtful", adding that she "rightfully commemorated" the lives lost during the Holocaust, as well as other genocides. 

Wimborne-Idrissi said Osamor's description of the Gaza assault as a genocide, as similar claims have been levelled against Israel at the ICJ.

"The fact that she apologised is understandable because she must have been under immense pressure because people's instant reaction to anyone that recognises Palestinian suffering is to accuse them of antisemitism. And that’s what happened in her case," she said. 

"She’s one of the very few Labour politicians who had the courage to recognise what is going on in Gaza for what it is. What she said was what the Labour Party should have been saying, in terms of genocide in Gaza."

Wimbourne-Idrissi emphasised that Osamor’s suspension is a reflection of the Labour Party’s stance on Israel's war on Gaza.

This week, the highest court on earth placed Israel on trial for possible genocide

Holocaust Memorial Day remembers the Shoah - the genocide of 6 million European Jews - and other genocides since.

Kate Osamor has been suspended for referring to Gaza as one of those genocides.

— Owen Jones (@OwenJones84) January 28, 2024

"Keir Starmer has, like Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, stuck slavishly to the line adopted by US President Biden - that Israel's right to self defence entitles it to cause unlimited death and destruction in retaliation for the Hamas attack on southern Israel on October 7," she said. 

"Crimes against civilians committed during that attack cannot be used to justify Israel's massively disproportionate retaliation.

"The truth is, many more Jews are openly and publicly declaring 'Not in Our Name'."

In the same week, Labour MP Tahir Ali apologised after accusing Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of having "the blood of thousands of innocent people on his hands" due to his support for Israel's Gaza campaign.

The Birmingham Hall Green MP later tweeted an apology due to "the way in which I described the prime minister in my question".

The Labour Party under the leadership of Keir Starmer has faced criticism over its stance on Palestine, as well as the alleged sidelining of pro-Palestine voices within the party.

Starmer has been criticised for saying that Israel “has the right” to withhold power and water from people in Gaza.

The party has also rejected calls for an immediate ceasefire in the besieged territory, which has led to numerous resignations by councillors across the country.