Last summer a Labour MP posted a meme made by a Jewish American scholar named Dr Norman Finkelstein. It depicted the state of Israel in red over a map of the USA in green, with the suggestion that, given its strong cultural, financial and military ties to the USA, and given the friction in the Middle East, Israel might prosper better as part of the USA.
It was a meme. A mere meme. Not a very good meme, not a very funny meme, but it was, none the less, just a meme.
Apparently, just for sharing this meme, the Labour MP in question was an ‘antisemite’. At the time, knowing who made the meme – a Jewish/American Scholar whose own parents perished in the Holocaust – I knew this false charge to be spurious, and so I defended the MP in question, to the hilt, and would do so again.
Today, sadly, I’m going to use this platform to ask that same MP, Naz Shah MP to consider her position. Not because im a sexist, or an islamophobe, but because endorsing and sharing the comment:
“those abused girls in Rotherham and elsewhere just need to shut their mouths. For the good of #diversity!”
Is beyond the pale. As an MP Shah has a responsibility to any and all young girls being abused, and such an action, sharing an endorsing such an horrendous comment, demonstrates that when it comes to this topic her judgement is way, way off.
Having read Shah’s statement (made by an adviser, not in person) it is difficult to conclude it was anything but an equivocation, where at no point did she show any contrition – not even having the decency to apologise.
Before, when Shah had done nothing save share a meme made by a Jewish/American scholar, she apologised. The fact she has refused to do so this time is nothing short of disturbing.
Sarah Champion spoke terribly on this subject – she resigned. Shah just did the same, the least she could do is apologise.
The comment she endorsed was so appalling it seemed more logical that it was a fake troll account making the endorsement. But it wasn’t a fake account.
But THAT’s how bad this was – I assumed it was a fake account because I assumed no sane/decent person would ever endorse such a statement. The lack of an apology for this endorsement really does beggar belief, and coming so soon after the Sarah Champion episode, if the backlash isn’t of a similar sort then all we are doing is giving cheap ammunition to the worst of our critics.
We MUST hold ourselves to the highest standards. That is how we will show all the communities of the UK that it is we in the Labour Party who are best placed to lead the country. Corbyn proved he could do this when he apologised on behalf of the Labour Party for the illegal invasion of Iraq.
It’s important his MPs do likewise. If they fail to, in the eyes of the electorate we will be hypocrites.
That lack of contrition will always have an electoral backlash.