Rabbi Laura Janner Klausner welcomed Naz Shah into her home last week for an interfaith feast for Passover – and this morning said that she would like to take the suspended Labour MP to Israel.
Rabbi Klausner, the former leader of Alyth Synagogue in Temple Fortune, told the BBC she doesn’t believe that Bradford West MP Naz Shah is anti-Semitic. Ms Shah has been suspended by the Labour Party after a social media post came to light in which she appeared to endorse the relocation of Israelis to the US. But Rabbi Klausner said the posts Ms Shah made and liked were anti-Semitic because “they swapped Israel and Jew – they were awful, they were terrible.” The Rabbi, who is part of the movement for Reform Judaism, said it was encouraging that Ms Shah has expressed remorse for her behaviour, and that it took “courage” and “integrity” to admit she was wrong. She said “I’m certain that she is up for change and learning, and from the point of view of a modelling change in Britain, that is excellent. “If only we could all do that in our lives because we know that racism and as and homophobia are all out there.” She added: “I would love to take Naz to Israel and to the territories not just to the Holocaust Museum, just down to the street or to hang out in a café because that’s how you learn about normality.” Rabbi Klausner said it was important not to scapegoat any individual or the Labour Party for anti-Semitic attitudes. She said: “To Labour, I think it is damaging and people are frightened … which is why I think the action of both repentance and also the suspension are good “I don’t think it’s just the Labour party, we need to look across the board at all parties and not even just the political institutions.” Rabbi Klausner said that it was concerning that people were getting “muddled up” in the language used about Israel and Judaism, and that criticism of Israel is turning into hostility towards Jews. She said: “The language that is slipping in with the general public around Jews and around Muslims needs to be called out. “I am concerned that it’s very easy to deflect (blame) on the Labour party rather than to ask, what does it mean for Britain?” She said that some of the anti-Semitic terms now being bandied about started to creep in when the conflict between Hamas and Israel intensified. She said: “The language that exploded on social media is not to do with the Labour Party, and that’s why I think the Naz thing is really interesting because what she did was utterly wrong, and now she is saying sorry. That’s a very good model.” Hampstead based comedian and writer, David Baddiel, who is Jewish, told the Today programme this morning that he thought the left had a particular problem with anti-Semitism. He said: “The left portrays itself as a champion of the oppressed. But there is such a big hangover from them that the Jews are not that, that they are rich and powerful and controlling and therefore that they do not fit into the category of the oppressed, particularly in their version of Israel, which is the oppressor. And therefore, the left does not extend to Jews the same protections as to other minorities.” But he said that Ms Shah’s post was by no means the worst thing on Twitter, and was “primarily meant to be a fairly standard bit of anti-Israelness … that tipped over into anti-Semitism”. The claims against Ms Shah will now be investigated by Labour’s National Executive Committee during which time she will be barred from playing an active role in the party and the whip will be withdrawn.