A Labour MP has expressed regret at the distress she has caused by taking part in a Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) event with a notorious anti-Israel activist.
Liz Twist, the Labour MP for Blaydon, had taken part in the HMD event at the University College Union in Newcastle with Yvonne Ridley, who has accused Israel of exploiting the Holocaust and described it as a “festering pustule”.
Holocaust Memorial Day Trust chief executive Olivia Marks-Woldman said it “is an abuse of Holocaust Memorial Day to cause distress and offence to Holocaust survivors and to members of the Jewish community, to use it as an opportunity to whitewash previous promotion of, or tolerance of, antisemitism and Holocaust distortion.”
Twist told Jewish News: “I absolutely agree with the comments of Olivia Marks-Woldman and can understand the anger in the UK Jewish community. It is absolutely right that Holocaust Memorial Day must be a day on which we learn from this genocide and work together to create a better future and not a time to whitewash or distort those terrible events.
“It was clearly a mistake on my part to take part in an event at which Yvonne Ridley was speaking, given her views, and I deeply regret that and the distress it has caused the Jewish community.”
She added: “I can’t undo that, but I want to say very clearly that I will continue to do all I can to oppose and challenge antisemitism wherever it occurs.”
Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl welcomed Twist’s comments.
Van der Zyl told Jewish News: “This was an appalling lapse of judgement and it is right that Liz Twist has offered a fulsome apology.
“MPs should not appear alongside individuals with such grotesque views as Yvonne Ridley. We commend better due diligence in future. Newcastle’s University College Union must urgently answer questions as to how they came to invite Ridley to a Holocaust Memorial Day event.”
Ridley has described Israel as a “festering pustule not the size of a South African game park, squatting in the Middle East. The creation of this nuclear-powered Frankenstein State and the determination to force it on Arabs will turn out to be America and Britain’s biggest ever mistake.”
A presenter on the Iranian Ayatollahs’ mouthpiece, Press TV, Ridley has also written: “What [9/11] also exposes is just how far Israel is prepared to go in its bid to deceive the world and justify its actions… even if it is at the cost of the memory of those blameless Jewish souls who perished in the Holocaust.
“By invoking the Holocaust – a favourite trick of the Zionist State – we were all expected to recoil in horror and disgust and accept blindly the evidence put before us by these masters of mass deception. To even question would have exposed us to accusations of being antisemitic.”
She has also said that, “not content with insulting the memory of the Holocaust victims, Tel Aviv has shown it is prepared to exploit the deaths of those who perished in 9/11 … clearly nothing or no one is sacred.”
University College Union in Newcastle has been asked for a comment.
— Newcastle Unites (@NewcastleUnites) January 25, 2019
While life in Israel has returned to normal and hopes are high that Britain is set for a summer without restrictions thanks to vaccines, for billions around the world there is no such imminent light at the end of the tunnel. In the majority of countries around the globe, particularly the poorest, the vaccine rollout has barely kicked off.
That's why Jewish News, the leading source of news and opinion for the entire UK community, is throwing its full weight behind UNICEF’s VaccinAid campaign by using this platform usually reserved for encouraging donations towards our own journalism to instead urge our readers around the globe to perform the greatest mitzvah: saving a life.
We have never before done this for any charity fundraiser but it's hard to recall a campaign that affects so many people, and indeed an entire planet aching for a return to normality. Just like the Chief Rabbi and Rachel Riley, we hope to boost the mission to deliver two billion vaccines, 165 million treatments and 900 million test kits around the world by the end of this year.
Please donate as much as you can, in the spirit of the Talmudic sages: “to save one life is to save the world entire”