A Labour MP has apologised for the offence caused by remarks about the Holocaust but denied seeking to equate its horrors with Israel’s treatment of people in Gaza.
Yasmin Qureshi was accused of drawing “offensive and inappropriate comparisons” during a Westminster debate about the Middle East.
In a speech decrying the lack of international action over the treatment of Palestinians in the occupied territories, she cited the creation of Israel.
“Israel was founded because of what happened to the millions and millions of Jews who suffered genocide,” she told MPs.
“Their properties, homes and land, everything, were taken away, and they were deprived of rights.
“Of course, many millions perished. It is quite strange that some of the people who are running the state of Israel seem to be quite complacent and happy to allow the same to happen in Gaza.”
Her words drew sharp condemnation from the chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, Karen Pollock.
“We expect our politicians to speak responsibly and sensitively about the past and about events today,” she said.
“These lazy and deliberate distortions have no place in British politics.”
Ms Qureshi, MP for Bolton South East, said she had not intended to draw a direct parallel and felt “personally hurt” that anyone could think she had done – especially as she had visited one of the most notorious death camps.
“The debate was about the plight of the Palestinian people and in no way did I mean to equate events in Gaza with the Holocaust,” she said in a statement.
“I apologise for any offence caused.
“I am also personally hurt if people thought I meant this.
“As someone who has visited the crematoria and gas chambers of Auschwitz I know the Holocaust was the most brutal act of genocide of the 20th century and no-one should seek to underestimate its impact.”
Ms Pollock said: “Whilst current events in the Middle East understandably stir emotions, it is astonishing to think that anyone could visit Auschwitz-Birkenau, learn about the industrial nature of the Nazis’ murderous regime, even walk through a gas chamber – and then make these offensive and inappropriate comparisons.”