The vice-chair of Momentum has been told to “show contrition or resign” after attacking Holocaust Memorial Day for excluding victims of other genocides and questioning the need for security measures at Jewish schools.
Jackie Walker, who was reinstated to the Labour party earlier this year after being suspended for comments on Jews and the slave trade, again provoked anger after attending a training session on tackling anti-Semitism run the Jewish Labour Movement at Labour conference.
She asked “wouldn’t it be wonderful if Holocaust day was open to all peoples who’ve experienced Holocaust?”.
Infact, the day, while focusing on the horrors of the Nazi era, does also honour the victims of other genocides and the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust’s website includes information on atrocities in Rwanda and Cambodia.
Turning to security issues at home, Walker added: “I was a bit concerned… at your suggestions that the Jewish community is under such threat that they have to use security in all its buildings.
“I have a grandson, he is a year old. There is security in his nursery and every school has security now. It’s not because I’m frightened or his parents are frightened that he is going to be attacked.”
Jewish Labour Movement chair Jeremy Newmark – who urged her to show contrition or resign – said: “To denigrate security provision at Jewish schools, make false claims about the universality of National Holocaust Memorial Day and to challenge recognised definitions of anti-Semitism is provocative, offensive and a stark example of the problem facing the Labour party today.”
Holocaust Educational Trust chief executive Karen Pollock said: “The Holocaust was a defining episode in history where 6 million men women and children were brutally murdered simply for being Jewish, the very epitome of man’s inhumanity to man.
“Whilst Holocaust Memorial Day rightly and proudly commemorates the Holocaust and subsequent genocides, one has to wonder why Ms Walker takes issue with commemorating the mass extermination of Jews in its own right. The deliberate use of term ‘HolocaustS’ – plural – undermines and belittles the distinct nature of the tragedy itself, ignores that genocides are the result of diverse and unique factors, and also deprives the Jewish community of their collective memory.”
The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust said they “are extremely shocked and saddened that Jackie Walker has questioned the aims and basis of Holocaust Memorial Day, a day when people of all backgrounds come together to remember the Holocaust, all victims of Nazi Persecution and subsequent genocides which have taken place in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. Commemoration of the Holocaust should be a universal responsibility and does not prevent or undermine commemoration of other genocides.”
They add: “With more than 5,500 activities in local communities across the UK, Holocaust Memorial Day effectively brings together vast numbers of people to commemorate the Holocaust and subsequent genocides
Condemnation also came from the council of Christians and Jews. “Momentum Vice-Chair Jackie Walker is wrong to suggest that security in Jewish schools has nothing to do with antisemitism. It is a sad but necessary fact of life for Jewish schools, synagogues and cultural centres that they need security to protect their communities.
“Across Europe, Jewish institutions—including schools—have been targeted and attacked simply because they are Jewish. Jewish children have lost their lives as a result. It is vital that society recognises the threats that face the Jewish community in the UK and that we all work to strengthen community relationships and expose antisemitism wherever it is found.”