Tom Watson has said he is “ashamed” of cases of anti-Semitism in Labour and pledged to fight to ensure Zionism is not used as a term of abuse, as he launched a thinly veiled attack on Ken Livingstone.

He also backed the Jewish Labour Movement’s proposals for tougher rules to make it easier to expel party members responsible for anti-Semitism or Islamophobia.

In a message to JLM members for Yom HaShoah, Labour’s deputy leader stressed the importance of remembrance and education of the Holocaust .

“Part of that commitment to memory and education is standing steadfast against those who seek to deny or revise the history of the Holocaust itself or the events leading up to it,” he wrote in what will be seen as a thinly veiled attack on the former London mayor. “Whatever their purpose. Whatever their agenda. Whoever they are.”

Ken Livingstone was suspended by the Labour Party.

Ken Livingstone was suspended by the Labour Party.

Far from supporting Zionism, the Nazi leader had described it as a scam in Mein Kampf, Watson pointed out. He added: “Much of the language of today’s anti-Zionism makes exactly the same claims.”

Israel, he insisted, was “testimony to Hitler’s ultimate failure”, as is the vibrancy of British Jewry.

He insisted non-Jews must stand up against continuing anti-Semitism today as those who were involved in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising risked their lives to do.

“It survived in Poland, where Jews rescued from concentration camps after the War were attacked and hundreds were killed,” Watson wrote.”It survived in Iran, which held another disgusting cartoon contest a few weeks ago, denying and belittling the Holocaust and spreading hate further.

“And it survives, most troublingly, here in the UK – In social media and dinner-table chatter; in our schools and in our universities, in our politics and in our parties.

“I’m ashamed of the recent cases of anti-Semitism in my party. I’m working with the Jewish Labour Movement and the Jewish community to ensure that racists and antisemites have no place in British politics. Together with many colleagues I am backing the JLM proposals for tougher rules.”

He vowed to ensure “Zionism is not used as a term of abuse or as a code word for Jews. I will fight to ensure that the right to Jewish national self-determination is preserved and respected. Jews are the target of anti-Semitism, but I will fight to ensure that they are not left to oppose it alone”.