Naz Shah Suspended Over Anti-Semitic Comments

MP Naz Shah has been suspended by the Labour Party pending an investigation into anti-Semitic social media posts.

On Monday, it was disclosed she had shared a post on Facebook suggesting Israel should be relocated in the US, along with the comment "problem solved".

Another post made before Ms Shah was an MP used the hashtag #IsraelApartheid above a quote saying "Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal".

Party leader Jeremy Corbyn had initially settled for reprimanding the Bradford West MP, despite pressure to take a stronger stance.

He told her that her comments were "offensive and unacceptable" but that he believed she no longer held such views.

Prime Minister David Cameron, however, told Prime Minister's Questions that it was "extraordinary" that Ms Shah had not been suspended from the party.

Two hours later, Ms Shah "wholeheartedly apologised" in the House of Commons, adding that she "deeply regret(ted)" causing "upset and hurt" to the Jewish community.

She said the post did not reflect her views and was made "at the height of the Gaza conflict in 2014, when emotions were running high around the Middle East conflict".

"But that is no excuse for the offence I have given, for which I unreservedly apologise."

She published a further apology in Jewish News on Wednesday morning, saying: "With the understanding of the issues I have now I would never have posted them.

"The language I used was wrong. It is hurtful. What's important is the impact these posts have had on other people.

"I understand that referring to Israel and Hitler as I did is deeply offensive to Jewish people, for which I apologise."

On Wednesday afternoon, however, the Labour Party confirmed she had been suspended.

A party spokesman said: "Jeremy Corbyn and Naz Shah have mutually agreed that she is administratively suspended from the Labour Party by the General Secretary.

"Pending investigation, she is unable to take part in any party activity and the whip is removed."

Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone, a Corbyn ally, said Ms Shah's remarks were not anti-Semitic and her suspension was unnecessary, telling LBC Radio: "We expelled a couple of people from the Labour Party early on for saying things that could clearly be interpreted as anti-Semitic.

"This is not that; this is an over-the-top comment about the horrendous conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians."

John Mann, Labour MP for Bassetlaw, told Sky News the suspension was "inevitable", and called on Mr Corbyn to "make sure she gets a proper education programme on anti-Semitism to understand how deeply offensive the comments she made are to people".

He suggested this should include a visit to Israel, including the country's Holocaust museum.

Mr Mann also commented on claims published by BuzzFeed News that Labour officials had edited Ms Shah's apology, removing the term "anti-Semitic" and references to the wider problem of anti-Semitism in left-wing politics.

He said: "I want (Mr Corbyn) to clarify if that happened, who did it and obviously he'll want to sack that person."

Stephen Pollard, editor of The Jewish Chronicle, told Sky News that the "initial draft...was really a rather good apology...what was published was so-so".

The Labour Party denied the claims that the apology had been edited, with a spokesperson saying they were "completely inaccurate".

Ms Shah quit her role as a Parliamentary assistant to shadow chancellor John McDonnell on Tuesday.

The Labour Party has been under increasing pressure to deal with anti-Semitism from members, something Mr Pollard said Mr Corbyn needed to deal with more strongly.

He told Sky News: "The Labour Party leadership that appears to have no real interest in dealing with anti-Semitism. It doesn't mean just suspending people when the media happens to find out about someone."

He said one could be against Israel's actions without being an anti-Semite, but added: "People have caught onto the idea that they can say they're anti-Zionist and it gives them a sort of 'get out of jail free' card.

"If you substitute 'Zion' for 'Jew', which is what they really mean...that's not being anti-Israel, it's being anti-Semitic."

He added: "I think there's definitely an unpleasant tone in a lot of politics."

Earlier this month, senior Labour MP Louise Ellman - who is Jewish - told Sky News: "Some (party members) are being allowed to get away with posting anti-Semitic comments in their tweets and on their websites. I have raised this in parliamentary meetings".

In March, local Labour Party vice-chair Vicki Kirby was suspended for using her Twitter feed to make anti-Semitic comments, such as saying that Jewish people have "big noses".

The comments had been made between 2011 and 2014.

She had been suspended from the party in 2014 but her suspension was later lifted until being reinstated after complaints following her being made vice-chair of Labour's Woking branch.