Labour antisemitism row: Naz Shah's suspension lifted

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Labour has lifted the suspension of Bradford West MP Naz Shah, who was disciplined over Facebook posts that suggested Israelis be deported to the US.

Shah, who said she deeply regretted her remarks, resigned as an aide to the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, after a number of posts made before she was elected surfaced from Facebook.

The MP, who won the seat for Labour from Respect MP George Galloway in 2015, used a point of order in the House of Commons to apologise for what she had posted. “Antisemitism is racism, full stop,” she said. “As an MP, I will do everything in my power to build relations between Muslims, Jews and people of different faiths and none.”

She also published an opinion piece in the Jewish News, saying she wanted to make “an unequivocal apology for statements and ideas that I have foolishly endorsed in the past”.

Despite initially backing the MP after her apology, the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, suspended her from the party in April pending an investigation, stripping her of the parliamentary whip and preventing her from undertaking any party activity.

During the height of the Israeli offensive in Gaza two years ago, Shah shared a picture that showed the state of Israel being relocated to the US, adding the caption “problem solved”.

In another controversial post, the MP urged followers to vote in an online poll about the Gaza war, claiming the result was skewed because “the Jews are rallying to the poll”.

Jeremy Newmark, chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, said he welcomed the lifting of Shah’s suspension. “She has proven herself to be a bold and courageous agent of change at a time when strong leadership on this issue is so important,” he added.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews said there was a clear demarcation between Shah and several others, including Ken Livingstone, who had been suspended by Labour for alleged antisemitism.

“Naz Shah stands out as someone who has been prepared to apologise to the Jewish community at a local and national level, and make efforts to learn from her mistakes,” a spokesperson said. “In that regard, her reinstatement today seems appropriate and we would hope for no repeat of past errors.”

Concerns over antisemitism within Labour led Corbyn to commission an independent report by Shami Chakrabarti, former director of human rights organisation Liberty, which was released last week and recommended some changes to party procedures.

But the event that launched the report was somewhat marred after the Labour leader said Jews were “no more responsible for the actions of Israel” than Muslims were for the “various self-styled Islamic states or organisations”.

Corbyn had intended to refer to states of an Islamic character, giving the examples of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran or Hamas in Gaza, but was widely reported to have compared Israel to terror group Islamic State.

On Monday the Labour leader told the home affairs select committee, which is conducting its own investigation, that it would have been better “in hindsight” had he referred to “Islamic countries”.

Corbyn said that appropriate action had been taken by the party’s compliance unit after allegations of antisemitism and fewer than 20 activists had been suspended while their cases were investigated.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Jessica Elgot, for The Guardian on Tuesday 5th July 2016 19.19 Europe/London

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