A Holocaust survivor launched a scathing attack on the Labour Party just moments after its shadow foreign secretary addressed the opening of the Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre exhibition.
Survivor Agnes Grunwald-Spier, an author, grabbed the microphone after speeches by Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government James Brokenshire, Holocaust Memorial Foundation co-chairs Ed Balls and Lord Pickles, and Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry.
She told a stunned audience: “I am bitterly disappointed by what has happened in the Labour Party… The Labour Party has to do something about antisemitism, otherwise this memorial is a waste of money.” She later told Jewish News: “I was incensed that [Ms Thornberry] came, because I have seen her defend what [Labour leader Jeremy] Corbyn said and I think it was sheer hypocrisy for her to stand here today and say what she said.”
Speaking after the event, Ms Thornberry told Jewish News: “I fully understand the anger that is widely felt across the Jewish community, and I have heard it first-hand for myself not just today but on numerous occasions in recent months.
“That places an obligation on all of us within the Labour Party to root out the anti-Semitism which has caused that justifiable anger. To that end, as I have made clear, my view is that we should immediately adopt the full IHRA definition with all the examples.
“I fully understand why people looked at some of the examples and asked whether this meant they could no longer criticise the state of Israel for the Netanyahu government’s policies and its treatment of the Palestinian people.
“But having read a number of legal advices on this issue, my interpretation is that we very clearly can, and we have a duty to do so as long as the Netanyahu government continues down its current path. I hope the issue of the IHRA definition will be resolved today, and we can then resume the long and difficult process of trying to regain the trust of the Jewish community in Britain.”
- Agnes Grunwald-Spier
- Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government James Brokenshire
- Holocaust Memorial Foundation co-chairs Ed Balls and Lord Pickles
- Ed Balls
- Lord Pickles
- Holocaust Memorial Foundation
- Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornbury
- Emily Thornberry
- Survivor Agnes Grunwald-Spier