Corbyn led motion to rename Holocaust Memorial Day ‘Genocide Memorial Day’
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Corbyn led motion to rename Holocaust Memorial Day ‘Genocide Memorial Day’

Labour leader sponsored motion in 2011 to change the name of day, in motion that said 'Nazism targeted not only Jewish' people

Jack Mendel is the Online Editor at the Jewish News.

600 candles in the shape of the Star of David are seen during a commemoration for Holocaust Memorial Day at York Minster, York.
600 candles in the shape of the Star of David are seen during a commemoration for Holocaust Memorial Day at York Minster, York.

Jeremy Corbyn led a move to rename Holocaust Memorial Day as ‘Genocide Memorial Day’, it has been revealed.

The Daily Mirror reports that an Early Day Motion (EDM) to remove the word ‘Holocaust’ was sponsored by the Labour leader and put forward by current shadow chancellor John McDonnell in 2011.

The EDM was submitted on 27 January, Holocaust Memorial Day, and received just 23 supporters; including 19 Labour MPs, one Tory, two Lib Dems and one member from Welsh party Plaid Cymru.

It said: “Nazism targeted not only Jewish but also Roma, Jehovah’s Witnesses, lesbian, gay and bisexual people and others they deemed undesirables; and therefore supports the call for international awareness of all communities and countries who have suffered and resisted mass extermination by renaming Holocaust Memorial Day as Genocide Memorial Day – Never Again For Anyone.”

A Labour party Spokesperson said: “This was a cross party initiative, jointly sponsored by a senior Conservative MP, to emphasise the already broader character of Holocaust Memorial Day. It is not our policy to seek a name change for this important commemoration.“

Karen Pollock, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said: “Holocaust Memorial Day remembers all victims of the Nazis and subsequent genocides, while also recognising the unique characteristics of the Holocaust and the centrality of antisemitism to the Nazi attempt to exterminate European Jewry. This Parliamentary motion and the campaign it supported appear to be politically-motivated and attempts to undermine a national day of remembrance that involves communities and educators of all backgrounds. It is for Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and the other MPs who signed the motion to explain why they thought it was worth their support.”

Olivia Marks-Woldman, Chief Executive, Holocaust Memorial Day Trust criticised the motion, saying: “Anyone who has seen our website, or attended the HMD UK Ceremony, as Jeremy Corbyn has many times, knows that Holocaust Memorial Day commemorates the Holocaust, all victims of Nazi Persecution, and the subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. The Holocaust rightly holds the central place in HMD, marking not only the extremity of centuries of antisemitism but also the trauma which compelled the formulation of the international crime of genocide and a new international system of cross-border justice.

‘Holocaust Memorial Day’ is far more than one day, with activities taking place over a month and the impact lasting far longer. It is an educational, as well as commemorative, day, and marks subsequent genocides as well as the Holocaust. People come together from different communities across the UK – they learn from the past, increase their empathy for others, and do more to create a better future.’”

A screenshot of the motion in question

This comes amid criticism of the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, for hosting an event in parliament in 2010, where speakers reportedly compared the actions of Israel in Gaza to the Nazis.

John Mann, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism said it was “extraordinary” that the Labour leader had held a “protest event” on Holocaust Memorial Day in 2010, adding that it went against “normal decency” when he hosted .

A member of Labour’s ruling body called on the party leader to fully adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, including its examples.

This follows the Labour NEC’s decision to adopt a watered-down version of the definition, which excludes four examples from the definition, including comparing Israeli policies to that of the Nazis, and accusing Jews of having allegiance to Israel.

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